It seems almost certain that Hillary Rodham Clinton will run for senator from New York. What is not certain is where she will spend the summer with her family.

It is a rule of national politics that you are judged not by where you spend your life, but where you take your vacation. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Hillary will have to sunbathe in New York state.

So far, Shelter Island and the Adirondacks have been mentioned, though the Catskills have not been ruled out, since that is where the Borscht circuit swing vote lives. The only other places for Mrs. Clinton to spend her summer are Italy, Ireland and Israel.

What hurts is that Martha's Vineyard will be losing the Clintons. They were summer residents for several years, and we cherished their company. The fact that they had chosen our island while they were the First Family affected everything that Vineyarders did.

Before they came to the Vineyard, houses overlooking the ocean sold for $18,000. After all the hoopla about the Clintons liking it, the same houses went for $3 million. But ever since it has been rumored that Mrs. Clinton will run in New York, the prices for these houses have plummeted to $14,000. Obviously there is concern.

An island summer homeowner told me, "It's not too late. Maybe we could talk her into running for senator from Massachusetts."

"That's a good idea. If you've seen one state, you've seen them all."

We formed a committee--Vineyarders for Senator Hillary--with the slogan "Massachusetts Needs Her More Than She Needs Massachusetts."

In the meantime the Vineyard shops are in mourning. The Bunch of Grapes bookstore is having a 50 percent knock-down sale on Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." If you buy a T-shirt at the Black Dog Cafe, you can get a free dog.

Politics not only makes strange bedfellows, it also makes stranger vacation places. We on the Vineyard say, "New York is a nice place to visit, but I would hate to swim there."

(C) 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate