Battle of the families for Clinton Senate seat: Andrew Cuomo and Caroline Kennedy neck and neck in two New York polls

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As Caroline Kennedy made a pilgrimage to Harlem to lunch with Rev. Al Sharpton, her rivalry with Cuomo scion Andrew, who is currently serving as New York State Attorney General until he can find a higher office, heated up.

Kennedy actually answered a couple of reporters’ questions in a sidewalk press availability, after munching with Rev. Al at Sylvia’s, in contrast to her first foray as a candidate yesterday when she ran pell mell for her car to escape from inquisitive ink-stained wretches.

Governor David Patterson, who will appoint someone to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat in a month or so, disclosed that he has talked with Cuomo about the Senate spot, although he refused to say in so many words whether the former Governor’s son asked him for it.

Meanwhile, two statewide polls were released showing Kennedy and Cuomo running neck and neck in the opinion of the state’s voters, who unluckily have no say in the matter.  A Siena College survey had Cuomo edging the Camelot Princess 26% to 23%, while a new Marist poll has them tied at 25% a piece.  No one else scored above single digits although the combined total of those not choosing neither the heiress nor the heir amounted obviously to about half those surveyed.

The word circulating among some newsies is that Kennedy has the job, if she wants it.  Since she has said she does want it, though, it’s hard to see why Patterson is personally throwing Cuomo’s name out now, when he hadn’t before.  I still think it’s up in the air, although Patterson is getting a lot of public and private pressure to appoint Kennedy.

Why?  Because Kennedy in the Senate now is a plus for Patterson only in the sense that her presence on the ticket in 2010 might help Patterson win election to a full term against a tough opponent like Rudy Giuliani.  That’s nice, but leaving Andrew in the AG slot — and snubbing him in favor of his ex-cousin-in-law who has never held public office, run for anything, or even held much of any job — might well mean that Cuomo would challenge Patterson in a primary. Patterson is an accidental governor, beset by mountains of troubles. If you had to bet today who would win that primary, Cuomo would be the better bet.  Appoint him to the Senate and, presto, one of your biggest problems goes away.

Would Kennedy and her extended clan, political support infrastructure and fundraising machine be harnessed to help David vs. Andrew?  Maybe, but Patterson probably doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy either.

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