PROVIDENCE -- The head of the state Democratic Party said he expected Representative Patrick J. Kennedy would be unanimously endorsed for reelection when the party's state convention is held tomorrow evening.
Bill Lynch, the party chairman, said he did not think Kennedy's disclosure that he was addicted to prescription drugs and had sought help during the Christmas holiday would affect the lawmaker's chances for reelection.
''People have gotten to know him here personally in Rhode Island," Lynch said. ''People here respect the fact that he's courageous enough to deal with this in the public eye, which is very difficult."
Shortly after Kennedy's announcement Friday, Patricia Morgan, head of the state Republican Party, said he was not capable of fulfilling his duties. She called for him to resign or ''take a medical leave of absence."
Kennedy said he had no plans to step down. ''I need to stay in the fight," he said.
The six-term representative, who was reelected with 64 percent of the vote in 2004, has no announced Republican opponent this year.
Kennedy was involved in a one-car crash near the Capitol early Thursday morning, and on Friday he reentered the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was treated previously.
Conservative talk radio shows in the representative's home state buzzed with outrage and calls for him to resign after he announced he was resuming rehabilitation.
But Kennedy's district is heavily Democratic and has sent him to Washington for six straight terms despite other personal problems. Yesterday, a day after Kennedy's announcement, his political friends praised him for taking a very public step to get help, while people at home ranged from sympathetic to fed up.
''He should go," said Jozef Patyna, 59, whose Providence shop, Flowers in Fashion, is in the district Kennedy represented for three terms as a state legislator. It's also a block from Providence College, the Roman Catholic school Kennedy graduated from in 1991.
''He didn't do anything good for the people. What he's making is a bad name for Rhode Islanders," Patyna said.
Doug Nilson, 29, a resident emergency room physician at Rhode Island Hospital, said he felt for Kennedy and those like him who are addicted to drugs or alcohol. ''I support someone who seeks help for those kinds of problems, because it's a real illness," he said. Still, Nilson, who moved to Providence from Chicago not long ago, said he would probably be less likely to vote for Kennedy when he is up for reelection in the fall.
Rose Iovini, 78, of Providence said her support for Kennedy was unwavering. ''I think he's a sick boy, and he's doing the right thing. And politics shouldn't come into it," she said. ''I think he'll be excellent when he comes back."
Kennedy crashed his car near the Capitol shortly before 3 a.m. Thursday. Capitol Police officers who responded to the accident said they suspected alcohol might be a factor in the crash, but were overruled by supervisors who arrived with orders to drive him home. The department is still trying to verify Kennedy's assertion that he had not been drinking that night, and to sort through why sobriety test procedures were not followed.
Kennedy initially attributed the accident to a reaction to prescription drugs he was taking under a doctor's orders for a bout of stomach flu. But he announced Friday that he was battling an addiction to prescription drugs, and later checked himself into the Minnesota clinic.
In an interview with the Providence Journal, Kennedy said he could not remember rising at 2:45 a.m. Thursday and telling a woman friend at his Capitol Hill townhouse that he had to go to the Capitol to vote.
He said his friend, whom he would not name, apparently ''tried to dissuade me" from leaving the house, and she ''wishes she had done a better job dissuading me."
Kennedy has publicly battled personal problems before. He had disclosed earlier that he went to rehab as a teenager for an addiction to cocaine, and has since said he was in recovery for depression, which he sometimes described as bipolar disorder, and alcoholism. In 2000, he was accused of shoving an airport security guard in Los Angeles and trashing a yacht.
McConnell said calls for Kennedy's resignation were insensitive, insulting, and wrong.
''If Congressman Kennedy had had a heart attack, nobody at all would be calling for him to step aside. That's the problem for people who have mental health issues," he said.
''Patrick has spent his whole life fighting that stigma."