Sour Caroline: Public support drops 31 points for Kennedy appointment

posted at 11:40 am on January 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Because, you know, the people, you know, need to, you know, support the selection of, you know, Hillary’s replacement.  New Yorkers haven’t completely given up on dynasty politics, though, as Andrew Cuomo becomes the beneficiary of Caroline Kennedy’s collapse (via Cuffy Meigs):

Caroline Kennedy’s popularity has suffered a “clear hit” as a result of her public campaign for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s Senate seat, while Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s positive ratings have shot up, according to a new poll.

According to Public Policy Polling, of Raleigh, N.C., 44 percent of New York State voters now say they have a less favorable opinion of Kennedy than they did before she started vying for the position. Thirty-three percent say it’s made no difference, and 23 percent report now having a more favorable opinion of her.

Cuomo now leads Kennedy 58-27 in a survey of the preferences of state voters. Among Democrats, Cuomo is ahead of Kennedy 54-34 percent; a month ago, the survey found Kennedy ahead of Cuomo by 44-23 percent among Democrats.

Does this mean Paterson won’t choose Kennedy?  Not necessarily.  If Paterson is convinced that Kennedy is the best candidate for the position, he has plenary authority to make the appointment.  After all, Caroline Kennedy has a strong resume, consisting of … er … well … her last name?

Cuomo at least makes some sense in terms of qualifications.  While being part of a two-generation dynasty, Cuomo has served in public office and won a statewide election for Attorney General.  I’m no fan of his politics, but Paterson won’t be naming a Republican to the seat anyway, and Cuomo at least has some credibility.

Speaking of Republicans, Jazz Shaw thinks that Peter King might have a shot at winning the special election in 2010:

Peter King is likely the GOP’s best hope (besides Rudy Giuliani) to seize either the Governor’s office or the Senate seat in 2010. Both Paterson and – potentially – Caroline Kennedy have been suffering from “The Utica Problem” (where politicians perceived as being too much in the pocket of New York City anger the more conservative, rural upstate voters) this winter, so Republicans are sensing an opportunity. King has a long, successful record in Nassau County, and has suffered remarkably little in the way of scandal or controversy outside of his interests in Ireland’s troubles.

King also has other reasons to be interested in a new job. New York is expected to lose one House seat in the upcoming redistricting shuffle and the Congressman is one of only three remaining Republicans in the state delegation. With Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state government and the Governor’s mansion, insiders expect them to look to remove one of these few GOP seats, so King’s current job may go the way of the dodo bird. If he can raise the money for such a run, King will likely be a formidable candidate.

King has a national profile as well, which will help in fundraising.  He’s about as conservative as it gets in New York, which will make him popular with grassroots organizers on the Right, especially if he goes up against Andrew Cuomo.  Still, I don’t see King beating Cuomo; as much as Kennedy has a “Utica problem”, I’d expect that the Big Apple advantage Cuomo would have would be too much for King to overcome.

Giuliani would have a better chance against Cuomo or Kennedy, if he decides to run.  However, the New York GOP also has George Pataki, who won statewide office three times as Governor, and probably looks even better to New Yorkers after the debacles of Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson.  Maybe the GOP can convince Pataki to try his luck a fourth time.


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