King Will Decide on Senate Race This Summer

Posted January 23, 2009 at 10:26am

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), who could barely contain his desire to run against Caroline Kennedy (D) in the 2010 Senate race, said Friday he will likely wait until summer to decide on a Senate bid now that Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) will fill the Empire State Senate vacancy.

“I’m still looking very seriously at being a candidate,” King said in an interview. “There’s not the same immediacy.”

King said he would continue to travel around the state over the next several months, meeting with political and community leaders to gauge interest in his possible candidacy. But he also said that in his view, Gillibrand, unlike Kennedy, “has qualifications” to serve in the Senate and deserves a honeymoon period.

“It’s important for New York to have a Senator to get her feet off the ground and get started,” he said.

Almost immediately after Kennedy’s interest in the Senate appointment became known two months ago, King, who has flirted with running for statewide office before, expressed his determination to run against her.

King said that if Gov. David Paterson (D) had appointed Kennedy to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who became secretary of State this week, he would have begun campaigning immediately because the 2010 Senate race would have gotten so much public attention.

But Kennedy hastily withdrew her name from consideration early Thursday, and Paterson is turning to Gillibrand, a two-term Congresswoman from upstate New York, instead.

“Kirsten Gillibrand changes the dynamic of the race,” King said. “With Caroline Kennedy this would have been high-profile. The whole country, the whole world, would have been following it. … You could keep the whole heat on for a year and a half.”