The next Kennedy
When retiring Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy exits the House next month, it will be the first time in 64 years that no member of the Democratic party's first family will be serving in Washington.
How long the drought will last is already the subject of much debate, with the 2012 election already looking ripe for the next Kennedy to step forward.
Leading the way are the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's (D-Mass.) wife, Vicki Kennedy, and his son, Edward Kennedy Jr., who are rumored to be potential Senate candidates in Massachusetts and Connecticut, respectively.
Waiting in the wings are a legion of other Kennedys including former Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.), who is also often mentioned as a potential Senate candidate, and his son, Joseph Kennedy III, who at 30 years old is considered a rising star and is expected to join the family business soon.
Here's a rundown of who could be next in line:
(And here's a Kennedy family tree to help you keep track of all the relations)
The widow of the legendary Senator is the dream candidate for Massachusetts Democrats to challenge Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) this coming cycle. She won rave reviews for her presence on the stump while helping Democratic candidates this year, and her ability to tap into her late husband's political legacy would be powerful.
But she turned down a run in the special election shortly after her husband died (understandably so), has publicly shunned the idea of running for office, and has turned her attention to building up the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United State Senate. What's more, there are plenty of Democrats -- Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch among them -- who seem much more anxious to run for Senate in 2012.
"She seems to be totally focused on the institute and making certain that it is successful," former state Democratic Party Chairman Phil Johnston told The Fix. "I do not believe she's spending much time focused on politics right now."
*Edward Kennedy Jr.
Ted Jr. lent an assist to Sen.-elect Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Ned Lamont (D) this year. The 49-year-old Connecticut resident (who is also the subject of a made-for-TV movie!) has a ready-made opportunity when Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) is up for reelection.
But the financial services executive and brother of the outgoing Rhode Island congressman said last month that he doesn't "have any immediate plans to go into politics -- or any mid-term plans."(But what about long term plans?)
More likely Democratic candidates against Lieberman are Rep. Chris Murphy and Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz.
One high-ranking Connecticut Democratic source said Ted Jr. has work to do if he wants to run in the Nutmeg State: "Connecticut Democratic politics is about spadework ... and people aren't just going to be moved by the Kennedy name."
*Former Rep. Joe Kennedy
The 58-year-old six-term Democrat from Massachusetts is the eldest son of Robert F. Kennedy, and he has maintained a $2 million federal campaign account that would come in very handy if he wants to run for Senate one day.
He passed on the special election last year and showed regret when a Republican won the race, but he hasn't shown much interest besides that. And given the number of candidates plotting to run against Brown, now would be the time to start reaching out.
If Vicki Kennedy doesn't run, though, those eager for a return to the Kennedy era may come calling. Nobody in the Kennedy family is more politically experienced, and a Joe Kennedy campaign would be instantly competitive.
*Joseph Kennedy III
For a brief moment, the 30-year-old assistant Barnstable County district attorney was thought to be as a potential successor to retiring Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.). The former congressman's son opted not to run, but more than the others mentioned above, it seems to be only a matter of time before he takes the plunge.
That said, open seats have been hard to come by in Massachusetts in recent years, and it may take some time before the right opportunity presents itself for this Kennedy.
"I don't know when it will happen, but it will happen in the not-too-distant future, I think," Johnston said of a candidacy by Kennedy III.
The 47-year-old businessman and son of RFK considered running for both Senate and governor in Illinois this year, ultimately deciding against both. He was later named by Gov. Pat Quinn (D) to the University of Illinois board of trustees. The job would be a good bullet point on a resume for a future run.
The only surviving child of former President John F. Kennedy briefly sought the appointment for the open Senate seat in New York in 2009 after Hillary Clinton became secretary of state. It didn't go well, and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand won the appointment. That said, Caroline at least showed interest, and that's something.
*Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
The son and namesake of RFK also threw his name in the hat for the New York Senate vacancy, but ultimately opted not to pursue it. He also considered running for attorney general of New York in 2006. Upon opting not to run for Senate in late 2008, he said, "I hope one day that I'll be able to do public service and government. It might happen one day."
*Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
The eldest child of RFK, she was a two-term lieutenant governor of Maryland and ran unsuccessfully for the state's top job in 2002. The fact that she was the first Democrat to lose a governor's race in 36 years doesn't bode well for her future aspirations, though.
Another son of RFK -- yes, he had 11 children -- the 45-year-old author flirted heavily in 2001 with a run for Congress in Massachusetts, but ultimately opted against it. In the special election to replace his uncle, Max endorsed long shot candidate Alan Khazei.
The 46-year-old son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and nephew of Ted, JFK and RFK was a two-term member of the Maryland House of Delegates. He lost a 2002 congressional primary to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and has stepped back from electoral politics since then.
The outgoing first lady of California and former NBC News anchor is very high profile and regularly in the news. A Democrat, she opted not to run for anything in 2010 but didn't rule out future runs.
Mark and Maria's brother, the 45-year old runs a non-profit dedicated to people with disabilities and was mentioned as possible candidate for governor of Florida this year. He also weighed a governor's bid in 2006 and has considered running for mayor of Miami Beach.
A fourth Shriver offspring, he is the mayor of Santa Monica, Calif., and briefly considered running for California attorney general this year.
*Edward Kennedy III
The 11-year-old son of Ted Jr. declared last year that he will run for Senate from Massachusetts in 2044 (seriously). So even if there is a Kennedy drought, it's likely to end at some point.
| November 30, 2010; 2:35 PM ET
Categories: Governors, Senate
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