New York: Cuomo, Not Kennedy, Favored Senate Pick

Posted January 14, 2009 at 5:44pm

Another poll was released Wednesday that showed New Yorkers’ enthusiasm for the prospect of Caroline Kennedy being appointed to the Senate is waning.

A poll of 1,664 registered voters taken Jan. 8-12 for Quinnipiac University found that 31 percent want Gov. David Paterson (D) to name state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo (D) to the Senate seat that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D) will give up if she is confirmed as secretary of State. Twenty-four percent favored Kennedy as the appointee, followed by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D), who was named by 6 percent of the poll’s respondents.

Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) received 5 percent and Rep. Steve Israel (D) took 2 percent in the poll, which had a 2.4-point margin of error. Eighteen percent of the survey respondents said they would prefer someone else.

Among Democrats, 32 percent named Cuomo and 31 percent said Kennedy.

“Caroline Kennedy’s stumbling start in her first interviews may have cost her the lead,” said Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

The daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy is one of 15 people whom Paterson has interviewed about the impending Senate vacancy. Her interest in the seat prompted an early flurry of breathless media coverage, but after she appeared tentative in some TV and newspaper interviews, some of the hype died down.

Paterson has said he won’t announce his selection until Clinton is confirmed to run the State Department. Earlier this week, 15 upstate Democratic county chairmen and elected officials wrote to the governor, urging him not to be swayed by issues of gender or geography in making his decision. Noting that the new Senator will be on the ballot in 2010, they said Cuomo and Israel “both have the ability to work successfully in our various regions and help lift all our candidates to success in the future.”

Meanwhile, Republicans in the state Legislature have introduced a bill calling for a special election to fill Clinton’s seat instead of a gubernatorial appointment. The Albany Times Union on Wednesday endorsed the legislation, but conceded in an editorial, “it would probably require, to use a phrase once famously uttered by Mrs. Clinton herself, a willing suspension of disbelief to think the Legislature would support the proposal.”