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New York Democrats React Favorably to Possible RFK Senate Run

May 14, 1964 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy can count on Liberal party support and is also likely to have Mayor Robert Wagner’s backing if he runs for the U.S. Senate from New York State this year. This became known as many high-ranking Democrats reacted favorably to the report that Kennedy was considering a race against Senator Kenneth Keating, the Republican incumbent.

The Liberal party often represents the balance of power in New York elections. In 1960, the 406,176 votes cast on the Liberal party line enabled the Kennedy-Johnson ticket to take the state’s 45 electoral votes.

Wagner today described the Attorney General as a good friend and an outstanding public official who “should be given serious consideration if he’s really interested.”

Democratic state chairman William McKeon said there was “no question that he would be a great candidate — and, I am convinced, a winning candidate — if he decided to seek the Senatorial nomination.” “Our own sources indicate,” McKeon added, “that he has substantial strength in every part of the State of New York.”

As a Senate candidate in New York, Kennedy could conceivably be more helpful to the national ticket than as a Vice-Presidential running mate. His strong civil rights position might alienate Southern voters but, conversely, attract wide support in New York. President Johnson, of course, wants to reduce Republican seats in the Senate.

The Attorney General’s associates emphasized today that his position is unusual. Before the assassination of his brother, he had great personal influence but little personal political power. Now, his influence in the Government is greatly diminished, but his personal political potential has suddenly and vastly expanded.

At the same time, he has become head of an extended family with great collective responsibilities and a commanding sense closeness, a role that could easily demand his full attention. In addition to the multiple political possibilities open to him, he has talked about teaching.

Just now, his friends say, the Attorney General is talking over all these ideas and thinking.

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