Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Kennedy Is Said to Withdraw Senate Bid By Nicholas Confessore and Danny Hakim-

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Caroline Kennedy has withdrawn from consideration for the vacant Senate seat in New York, according to a person told of her decision.

On Wednesday she called the governor, David Paterson, who is making the selection of who should succeed Senator Hillary Clinton. Her concerns about Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s deteriorating health (he was hospitalized after a seizure during the inaugural lunch on Tuesday ) prompted her decision to withdraw, this person said. Coping with the health issues of her uncle, with whom she enjoys an extraordinarily close bond, was her most important priority; a situation not conducive to starting a high profile public job.

She was planning to issue a statement on Wednesday evening.

Ms. Kennedy’s decision comes nearly two months after she, along with several members of Congress and leading political officials, began auditioning to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the coveted position.

The decision is certain to startle the political world.Ms. Kennedy had gained the support of some powerful backers in the state, including several labor officials and a top aide to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Kevin Sheekey.

But her pursuit of the seat also set off resistance, with some local Democratic officials suggesting it smacked of entitlement, and polls showing voters preferring Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo for the position. Ms. Kennedy, 51, the daughter of President John F. Kennedy and a resident of the Upper East Side of Manhattan, has never served in public office.

Gov. David A. Paterson plans to announce on Saturday whom he has selected. The governor has been coy about his decision, and while he has praised Ms. Kennedy, he has also spoken approvingly of other candidates, including Mr. Cuomo and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand, who is beginning her second term as a congresswoman from the Albany area.

Mrs. Clinton resigned from the Senate late Wednesday, immediately after being sworn in as secretary of state.