Caroline Kennedy caught Washington watchers off guard early today by dropping her bid to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as the new junior Senator from New York.
In a brief note to New York Gov. David A. Patterson, Kennedy withdrew from consideration for appointment to the post, citing "personal reasons." The note followed a phone call by Kennedy to the governor’s office on Wednesday.
Her decision ended weeks of speculation, missteps and controversy over the earlier-announced decision to seek appointment to the Senate seat. Clinton supporters generally opposed such an appointment and recent statewide polls shows Kennedy was not the first choice of voters.
Caroline Kennedy announced early Thursday that she was withdrawing from consideration for the vacant Senate seat in New York, startling the state’s political world after weeks in which she was considered a top contender for the post.
Ms. Kennedy on Wednesday called Gov. David A. Paterson, who will choose a successor to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, to inform him that she was no longer interested.
“I informed Governor Paterson today that for personal reasons I am withdrawing my name from consideration for the United States Senate,” Ms. Kennedy said in a statement released by her public relations firm.
Ms. Kennedy did not elaborate, but a person who spoke to her suggested that her concerns about the health of her uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, who suffers from brain cancer and was hospitalized after a seizure on Tuesday, contributed to her decision.
Ms. Kennedy believed that the job was hers if she would accept it, the person said, but aides to Mr. Paterson would not comment on whether that was true.
Her decision appeared to catch the governor off guard, throwing the Paterson administration into confusion and setting off conflicting news media reports. After frantic talks between the governor’s operation and Ms. Kennedy’s camp Wednesday evening, Ms. Kennedy appeared to waver on whether to withdraw, and was preparing a statement reasserting her interest in the job. But just after midnight, she decided to make clear she was taking her name out of consideration and released the statement saying so.
Ms. Kennedy declined to be interviewed.