Caroline Kennedy, the daughter of an American political dynasty, has decided she will pursue the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a person told of her decision said Monday.
The decision came after a series of deeply personal and political conversations, in which Ms. Kennedy, who friends describe as unflashy but determined, wrestled with whether to give up what has been a lifetime of avoiding the spotlight.
Ms. Kennedy will ask that Gov. David A. Paterson consider her for the appointment. The governor was traveling to Utica today could not immediately be reached for comment.
If appointed, Ms. Kennedy would fill the seat once held by her uncle, the late Robert F. Kennedy.
Ms. Kennedy has been making calls this morning to alert political figures to her interest.
Ms. Kennedy’s decision is likely to have a major impact on the governor’s considerations as he mulls who should succeed Mrs. Clinton. Already, some other Democrats have pointedly questioned her credentials for the job. Rep. Gary Ackerman, a Queens Democrat, said last week that he didn’t know what Ms. Kennedy’s qualifications were, “except that she has name recognition — but so does J. Lo.”
But others, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg have praised her abilities.
Ms. Kennedy first telephoned the governor Dec. 3 to inquire about the job, but Mr. Paterson described that conversation as “informational” and said it was clear Ms. Kennedy had not decided whether she wanted to pursue the position.
But since, then, she has begun reaching out to key political figures in New York, such as Sheldon Silver, the speaker of the state Assembly, and State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. She has also hired Knickerbocker SKD, a prominent political consulting firm headed by Josh Isay, a former chief of staff to Sen. Charles Schumer, to advise her.
Her family members, especially her cousin, Robert F. Kennedy, have urged her to seek the post.
Mrs. Clinton has said she will not vacate the seat until she is confirmed as secretary of state, which is expected to occur in January or February, and the governor has said he would wait until then to make the appointment. But he has also said he may make his selection known before then, to allow whoever is chosen to prepare for the new role.
Ms. Kennedy, 51, a resident of Manhattan’s Upper East Side, took an unusually public role in President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign, and the two became friends. Mr. Obama appointed Ms. Kennedy to the panel that vetted potential vice-presidential candidates for him.
But, before that, Ms. Kennedy had devoted much of her time to charitable works and institutions linked to her family, such as the Kennedy Library Foundation, where she is president.
Others likely to be considered are members of Congress, including Kirsten Gillibrand, a rising star in the Democratic party who represents an upstate district, Tom Suozzi, the former gubernatorial candidate and Nassau County chief executive, and the state attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo.