Joseph P. Kennedy II announced today that he will not seek the Senate seat held by his uncle, a move likely to end the Kennedy family's half century of political dominance in Massachusetts and entice several other candidates to jump into the race.
Joseph P. Kennedy II
Kennedy posted his decision not to run in the special Senate election on the website of Citizens Energy Corp., the nonprofit he founded to deliver free heating fuel to the poor. The outpouring of grief and appreciation following the death of his uncle, Senator Edward M. Kennedy, moved the former Congressman to naturally "consider getting back involved in public office."
"My father called politics an honorable profession, and I have profound respect for those who choose to advance the causes of social and economic justice in elective office," Kennedy said in the statement. "After much consideration, I have decided that the best way for me to contribute to those causes is by continuing my work at Citizens Energy Corporation."
Kennedy's decision not to run opens the door for several candidates who had been hesitant to run against a Kennedy for the state's first open Senate seat in 25 years. Several other Democrats may now join the race, including U.S. Representatives Michael Capuano and John Tierney and former U.S. Representative Martin Meehan.
The lone Democrat to officially launch her candidacy is state Attorney General Martha Coakley. US Representative Stephen Lynch, also a Democrat, has taken out nomination papers, but has said he must weigh family matters before deciding whether to run.
On the Republican side, Canton Selectman Bob Burr is the only candidate to officially enter the race. State Senator Scott Brown, a Republican from Wrentham, is also weighing a run. Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is an independent but has campaigned for Republican President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain of Arizona, has also expressed interest. Republican Kerry Healey, the former lieutenant governor, said on Sunday night that she would not run.
A primary is slated for Dec. 8 with the final election Jan. 19.
Joseph P. Kennedy II is the oldest son of Robert F. Kennedy, the New York senator who was assassinated in 1968 as he ran for president. As a Congressman for 12 years, Joseph P. Kennedy II represented a district that includes portions of Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, and Chelsea. In 1999, Kennedy left the seat, which is now held by US Representative Michael Capuano, a Democrat from Somerville.
Since leaving public office, Kennedy, 56, flirted several times with a run for governor and was considered the wild card in the special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of his uncle. The Globe reported on Sunday that Kennedy's most formidable obstacle in the special election might have been the oil Citizens Energy received from President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela.
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