[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/12/17/art.kennedy.gi.jpg caption="A powerful New York Democrat now says he will support Kennedy if she is named Senator."](CNN) - Caroline Kennedy appears to have cleared a big hurdle in her quest to replace outgoing New York Sen. Hillary Clinton.
New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a powerful Democrat who has questioned whether Kennedy is the best choice to fill the likely vacant seat, said Wednesday he will support Kennedy should she ultimately be appointed to the post.
"I have determined there's a good possibility she will be the appointee of the governor," Silver told the New York Post. "If she is the appointee of the governor, I will certainly be supportive of her. I will work for her and will work strenuously for her election."
Silver's comments differ markedly from his statements last week, when he suggested Kennedy is too closely allied with Michael Bloomberg, the Republican-turned-Independent New York City Mayor.
"If I were the governor, I would look and question whether this is the appointment I would want to make: whether her first obligation might be to the mayor of the City of New York, rather than to the governor who would be appointing her," Silver told an Albany radio station then.
Related: Kennedy says she's best for the job
In the interview with the Post, Silver acknowledged he is now more favorable of Kennedy than he was last week, and said she will likely help the governor get elected to a full term in 2010 if she is on the ballot herself.
"The governor, I think, wants to run [in 2010] with a strong candidate, and I'm sure…having a well-known woman on the ticket will be helpful," he said.
Paterson has the sole responsibility of picking Clinton's replacement. His pick would serve for two years before running in a special election in 2010. If the candidate won that contest, he or she would have to run again in 2012, when Clinton's term ends.
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