She's in.

"She told me ... she realized that it was not a campaign, but ... she's interested in the position," Paterson told reporters late Monday afternoon. "She'd like, at some point, to sit down and tell me what she thinks her qualifications are." lt;/div>

The only surviving child of John F. Kennedy, an early Obama supporter, also has signed up a political consultant to advise her, and phoned several other top New York Democrats Monday to tell them she'd like to replace Clinton after she is confirmed as secretary of state early next year.

Among those who fielded calls from Kennedy were Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Rep. Louise Slaughter, the Rev. Al Sharpton and New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.

Later, Slaughter, an upstate Democrat and chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, publicly endorsed Kennedy for the seat, saying she had the "skills and the stature" needed for the job.

Silver spokesman Dan Weiller declined to detail the substance of the call but reiterated, "This is the governor's decision to make, and there are many qualified candidates."

Among others being considered for the seat are State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-Hudson), Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D- Manhattan), Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi and Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington).

The jockeying for the open Senate seat has provided endless grist for Paterson's trademark humor, and it continued in Albany yesterday when Cuomo formally nominated Paterson to oversee state Electoral College proceedings.

"Mr. Attorney General, thanks for nominating me -- maybe I can return the favor some time," the governor quipped.