Some of the widespread resistance to Caroline Kennedy's bid to replace Hillary Clinton in the Senate stems from the fact that she would have to be appointed, rather than elected, to the seat. As Mother Jones' Kevin Drum put it last month,
Rich and famous people already have a huge leg up when it comes to winning political office, but at least they still have to run and win. Appointing them instead so they can avoid the whole messy business of engaging in a campaign is just a little too Habsburgian for my taste.That sentiment has given some traction to the idea of appointing a "caretaker" to the seat – someone qualified for the Senate who would not run to retain the seat in 2010, when New York will hold a special election to fill the seat for two more years (or, presumably, in 2012, when Clinton's term was set to expire).
It's a strategy to hand the decision on the seat back to the voters. Kennedy and the other Senate hopefuls would have to win the seat the old-fashioned way.
Among the "caretaker" names being floated: former President Bill Clinton and former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. (Another is former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey, though he appears to be having enough troubles running New York City's New School.)
While Bill Clinton may be a long-shot, Gov. David Paterson – who will make the Senate appointment – is amenable to the caretaker idea, Democratic party officials told the Associated Press.