Thanks I'll keep him
You have really lovely descriptions of Neelix, I can see how that would be appealing. I do think Ethan Phillips is cute in a quirky kind of way. He's no Data though. I also have a mad crush on Julian Bashir.
The Doctor did always seem to have a very high opinion of Kes though, more than anyone else I think. I'm not sure at what point the Doctor became sentient. Even if he wasn't sentient when Kes left, if she'd stuck around for the whole series she'd have been there when he did pass that invisble line into sentience. Presuming he ever was. I think he was by the end, and not at the beginning. I'm uncertain of when it happened in those middle seven years.
I can see the appeal of a Klingon as far as fantasy goes, but I know that would never work. Who wants to get a broken bone every time you get sexual, and then there's all the noise and aggression.