Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Buzz Around Caroline Kennedy

Unless you've been ignoring the news entirely, you know that there's significant buzz in New York and nationally over Caroline Kennedy as a possible choice by Governor David Paterson to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate as Clinton departs to become Barack Obama's Secretary of State.

And Chris Cillizza reports yesterday that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made a call to Paterson urging him to select Kennedy -- and if this is true, I agree with Senator Reid.

There's two basic schools of thought around Paterson selecting Kennedy to replace Clinton: One is that she's a political neophyte who has spent her life avoiding the spotlight and that she simply isn’t qualified. The other is that she's serious, smart, has name recognition and star quality -- perhaps those two go hand-in-hand with the Kennedy name? -- and that she'll be up to the task.

At this point, I fall into the latter group.

There's no doubt that there's more experienced politicians who could get the nod from Paterson, but Republicans are salivating over the thought of possibly being able to pick up this seat in 2010 and who will run best in that race has to be a consideration in the selection process.

Although she appears a bit shy and tentative when speaking in public, Caroline Kennedy will grow on the campaign trail in 2010. I also believe people will be drawn to her and, if appointed, she will make a formidable, compelling candidate two years from now.

She will also have strong support from President-elect Obama -- who she endorsed and for whom she campaigned this year -- and she will be helped very ably by Reid, New York's senior Senator Chuck Schumer and will undoubtedly surround herself with an experienced Senate staff who will guide her through all the administrative minutia of the office.

We don’t know when Paterson will make his choice as the seat is not even formally up for grabs until Hillary Clinton is confirmed for her next job and resigns from the Senate.

And I guess you should take my words as just more fodder for a debate that will continue throughout the holiday season. Especially with me having watched Democrats be such a minority in Washington for the bulk of the last eight years, I fully admit that I'm a fierce partisan who wants nothing more than to extend the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress going forward.

So in some ways, I'm a single-issue voter on how this is decided -- and I'm "voting" for who I think can retain this Senate seat in 2010.