Far be it from me to question the appointment of Caroline Kennedy to the Senate, but is this really the direction that New York Democrats want to go?
In a solidly Democratic state, she’s the only prospective nominee who’s never sought elective office. Most first-time candidates make mistakes; is a Senate race the best place to test one’s campaign skills? As long-time New York Democratic consultant Hank Sheinkopf points out, she’s one of the weaker possible choices against Peter King — the only Republican in the race so far:
“She is going to have to raise $40 million like anyone else — why is it just assumed that she will have $40 million dollars to spend? Why is it presumed that she can just walk in and win? Peter King is going to be tough. I would match a centrist conservative Republican who is a Catholic, from the suburbs of New York, against a Manhattan socialite, and let’s see how she does in Nassau Suffolk and Western New York.”
“What’s her accomplishment?” Sheinkopf continued. “How many jobs did she create in New York? Peter King can make that argument. Tom Suozzi can make that argument. Steve Israel can make that argument.”
Besides her potential weakness as a candidate, she seems likely to run into problems lining up support from elected Democrats in the state. For one thing, numerous Democrat Members of Congress expressed interest in the race, and are likely to resent her ‘parachuting in.’
For another, the Village Voice reports that she seems to have backed Mike Bloomberg for Mayor — and Bloomberg is now a very strong advocate for her Senatorial candidacy. If she winds up in the Senate, she’s not likely to render much help in the effort to send a Democratic Mayor back to Gracie Mansion in 2009, either. Given her lack of enthusiasm for Democratic candidates, how much support are party leaders like to muster for her?
And add to that little problems which continue to emerge — like the news today that she has failed to vote in elections for Senate, Mayor, and other offices — and it’s easy to envision Kennedy winding up as a mistake pick. In a state with so many Democrats to choose, will Governor Paterson really pick the one who’s most likely to embarrass him?
Oh well. What do I know. Kathleen Parker likes her. Who am I to argue?