When two dynasties go to war …
posted at 5:00 pm on January 7, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
Andrew Cuomo has tried to paint himself as above competing for an appointment to Hillary Clinton’s vacated seat in the Senate, but the New York Times reports that he’s far from disinterested. The scion of the Cuomo political dynasty wants to make sure that another dynasty’s heiress presumptive doesn’t build momentum towards gaining the seat for herself. Cuomo has started twisting arms in the unions to block Caroline Kennedy from the appointment:
Even as Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo insisted he was staying out of the competition for New York’s soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat, a top Cuomo aide urged labor leaders and upstate officials to refrain from embracing Caroline Kennedy for the job, according to several people with direct knowledge of the conversations.
Two of the people, including a prominent upstate Democratic operative, said the Cuomo aide, Joseph Percoco, had suggested the upstate officials give Ms. Kennedy a cold reception and had questioned her credentials.
“He said, ‘Don’t you think it should be someone who understands upstate? Don’t you think it should be someone with experience? Shouldn’t it be somebody who knows New York better?’ ” said the operative, who spoke anonymously out of fear of antagonizing the attorney general. “They’ve been trying to feed people.”
In a separate conversation with a top union official, Mr. Percoco was less direct, but suggested that the attorney general was interested in the Senate seat for himself.
“It wasn’t a specific Caroline Kennedy conversation,” the official said. “It was, ‘I can’t say he wants you to tell people he wants it, but you should, wink-wink, nudge-nudge, know that he kind of wants it,’ ” the official said, referring to Mr. Cuomo.
As most people know, there is some personal history at play here as well. Cuomo had been married to another Kennedy cousin but got divorced from Kerry Kennedy five years ago. Until now, the political ambitions of the two families have not conflicted with each other, but a showdown appears imminent, and Cuomo doesn’t appear too shy to engage aggressively in it.
The longer this goes, the less likely either will get the position. If Paterson has to choose between the Cuomos and the Kennedys, he may feel that an outsider will be his safest bet. Given the public nature of their pursuit of the seat, it may be the best option for Paterson to maintain some semblance of distance from either dynasty while keeping ties to both intact.