By Fredric DickerNew York Post "Inside Albany" Columnist

Editor's Note: This column appeared in the January 19 edition of the New York Post. To read the entire column click here.

DESPITE claims that he's still undecided, [New York] Governor Paterson is "certain" to pick Caroline Kennedy to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton in the U.S. Senate, several unhappy contenders for the job have told friends and associates in recent days.

The contenders based their conclusion on the view that Paterson, after nearly two months of indecision, would "greatly embarrass" and "entirely humiliate" Kennedy, anger her prominent political family and even offend President-elect Barack Obama by picking someone other than President John F. Kennedy's daughter.

[caption id="attachment_4469" align="aligncenter" width="251" caption="Caroline Kennedy istens to a reporter's question on Dec. 17, 2008 (AP)"][/caption]

As for the governor's claim to be weighing a last-minute finalist, the contenders agree with a close Paterson friend who said, "It's clear David is just trying to play mind games with the press."

Some of the contenders warned, however, that the unelected Paterson, who must face the voters next year, could face a serious backlash from Democratic activists by choosing Kennedy, whose standing with the public, and with Democrats in particular, has been sliding in recent weeks.

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