Kennedy will back Dem for NYC mayor

December 22, 2008 8:16:14 PM PST
An aide to would-be senator Caroline Kennedy says she will back the Democrats' pick next year for New York City mayor, possibly putting her in the uncomfortable position of backing a rival to her friend Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Meanwhile Bloomberg said Gov. David Paterson should make a decision quickly on who would succeed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton because the selection process has gotten "out of control."

Kennedy spokesman Stefan Friedman said in an e-mail Monday that Kennedy "fully intends to support the Democratic nominee."

Over the weekend, aides to Kennedy would not say whether she would support the Democratic candidate for mayor in 2009.

Bloomberg, a Republican-turned-independent, is seeking re-election to a third term. In theory, saying she "fully intends" to support the Democrat gives her some wiggle room to reverse course, but not much.

If Paterson does appoint her to the Senate seat soon to be vacated by Clinton, the mayor's race would put Kennedy in the position of supporting a Bloomberg rival, assuming the mayor does not enter the crowded Democratic primary field.

Her decision to stick to the party line on the mayor's race comes after Queens congressman Gary Ackerman compared her over the weekend to failed GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, as someone who has been separated from the public and the press and has yet to show her qualifications for the job.

That kind of comparison - particularly in a heavily Democratic state where Palin is unpopular - led Bloomberg to defend Kennedy's qualifications and character when asked about the comparison at a press conference Monday.

Bloomberg said he wasn't endorsing Caroline Kennedy, but that he thinks she is qualified.

"That doesn't mean she's the only one. Its up to the governor, and I think the governor should make a decision reasonably quickly because this is just getting out of control and everybody's focusing on the wrong things," Bloomberg said.

He said Kennedy's work raising money for public schools proved she is a smart, hardworking person.

"Being a senator, you don't have to know about every issue coming in," he said. "Caroline Kennedy is eminently qualified to be senator. She's not the only one."

Bloomberg has publicly praised Kennedy, and Kevin Sheekey, a key aide to the mayor, has privately made calls promoting her Senate bid to Democrats. A Bloomberg consultant, Josh Isay, is managing her bid for the Senate.

Paterson has weeks to decide, since Clinton won't resign her seat until she is confirmed as the next secretary of state. Whoever he picks will have to run for election in 2010, and, if successful, again in 2012.


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