New York legislative leader will support Kennedy

Despite early reservations, New York state’s most powerful legislative leader now says he’ll support Caroline Kennedy for the U.S. Senate if the governor names her to the seat expected to be vacated by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver told the New York Post he’s rethinking his views on Kennedy because he feels Gov. David Paterson will soon pick her to replace Clinton, President-elect Barack Obama’s choice as secretary of state.

If she is Paterson’s choice, the Democratic lawmaker said he will "work strenuously for her election," the Post reported Thursday.

Two people close to Paterson told The Associated Press they believe the daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy will be Paterson’s choice. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak on the matter.

But Paterson cautioned Thursday that his search was still ongoing.

"It ain’t nothin’ till I calls it," the governor said at a New Year’s Day open house at the executive mansion, recalling a statement by legendary baseball umpire Bill Klem.

"Pass that along to any of these excited people who think they’re going to influence me," Paterson said, according to The New York Times.

Kennedy’s supporters include New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent who is another important ally for Paterson.

Silver had previously suggested that Bloomberg and his supporters had hijacked the selection process for their own political gain. Many of Kennedy’s advisers have close ties to Bloomberg.

Paterson has sole authority to name someone to the Senate seat for the next two years. Under state law, there would be an election to fill the last two years of Clinton’s term in 2010 and another for a full six-year term in 2012.

Other hopefuls for the seat include a half-dozen members of Congress and state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, son of former Gov. Mario Cuomo.