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Originally published January 23, 2009 at 12:00 AM | Page modified January 23, 2009 at 8:56 AM

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Caroline Kennedy's dropped Senate bid sparks accusations

Caroline Kennedy's mysteriously abrupt decision to abandon her Senate bid gave rise to a swirl of accusations Thursday and speculation over whether she jumped or was pushed.

The Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. — Caroline Kennedy's mysteriously abrupt decision to abandon her Senate bid gave rise to a swirl of accusations Thursday and speculation over whether she jumped or was pushed.

The 51-year-old daughter of President Kennedy was widely considered a front-runner for the Senate seat until she sent a midnight e-mail to reporters and Gov. David Paterson, saying she was withdrawing for what she described only as personal reasons.

Even though many Democrats had thought Paterson was going to appoint Kennedy soon, a person close to the governor said Thursday that Paterson had no intention of picking her because he believed she handled herself poorly in introducing herself as a candidate.

The person also said there were concerns about possible tax problems for Kennedy, a potential "nanny problem" involving a housekeeper and media rumors that her marriage was on the rocks. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity, would not elaborate.

Kennedy spokesman Stefan Friedman would not detail her reasons for withdrawing, but complained: "This kind of mudslinging demeans that process and all those involved."

The state tax department said it could not find any problems with Kennedy's tax records. In a December interview, she denied she had any "nannygate" problem and said her husband, Edwin Schlossberg, was very supportive and they lived together with their children.

On Thursday, Paterson said Kennedy's decision "was hers alone" and he hadn't ruled out any candidate before she withdrew. He is expected to announce his choice today.

Kennedy's withdrawal unfolded in chaotic fashion.

She called the governor around midday Wednesday and told him she was having second thoughts about the job, the person close to Paterson said. After several hours in which the governor's staff could not find her to discuss the matter, she told the governor she would remain in contention, the person said. Then came the midnight e-mail.

People close to the governor were clearly angry at Kennedy over the confusion.

"The question is, did she jump or was she pushed?" said Maurice Carroll of the Quinnipiac University poll.

A person close to Kennedy denied her "personal reasons" were concerns about the health of her uncle, Sen. Ted Kennedy, who had a cancerous brain tumor removed last summer.

Among those said to be in the running are New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand, Carolyn Maloney and Brian Higgins.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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