2 September 2009

«Give it another go, Joe!»

The race for the vacant seat in the US Senate following the death of Edward M. Kennedy has already started, and the Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh has set the tone by writing a rather sarcastic article titled «Give it another go, Joe!». Lehigh is of course referring to Joe Kennedy II, son of the late Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of Ted. Joe Kennedy served in the House of Representatives for 6 periods from Massachusetts’ 8th district before leaving politics at national level in 1999. Since then he has worked for the Citizens Energy Corporation which is aimed to provide discounted heating oil to low-income families. He considered running for Governor of Massachusetts in 1998, but gave it up when family members became too much an issue. Lehigh goes on listing all of Kennedy’s weaknesses, obviously hoping that his participation in the senatorial race will make the campaign far more entertaining.

Massachusetts law requires that a vacant senate seat be filled through a special election to be held between 145 and 160 days after the vacancy. Governor Deval Patrick has already set the election date to 19 January 2010.

The Kennedys have represented Massachusetts in the Senate ever since 1953, if we ignore the short period from 1960 to 1962 when Benjamin A. Smith warmed the seat for Edward M. Kennedy. Many seem to think it is only natural that Ted’s successors comes from his own family. But maybe the citizens of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts now will say that enough is enough of the Kennedy dynasty?

The Boston Globe has made a list of possible Kennedy successors. One candidate might be the late senator’s widow Victoria, but rumors say that she is not interested in the job. The experienced but vulnerable Joe Kennedy II has already been mentioned. Attorney General Martha Coakley on the other hand has already done the paper work and is ready for the race. Other possible candidates are Michael Capuano, who succeeded Joe Kennedy as member of the US House of Representatives in 1999; Stephen Lynch, yet another member of the House of Representatives; former US Congress man Marty Meehan, Republican State Senator Scott Brown and former US Attorney Michael Sullivan, yet another Republican.

Wikipedia lists other possible candidates in the article «United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, 2010» Besides the candidates mentioned by the Globe, Wikipedia suggests Ed Markey (US Representative for Massachusetts’ 7th congressional district), Jim McGovern (3rd district) and Attorney Ed O’Reilly on the Democratic side, while among others Jeff Beatty (former Senate candidate and Cape Cod businessman), former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, Chris Egan (former Ambassador to OECD), former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and former Governor William Weld are potential Republican candidates.

Just for the record, Edward M. Kennedy’s sons – Edward Jr. and Patrick – seem to be ruled out altogether. The former lives in Connecticut and has no political experience, while the latter is already a US Representative from Rhode Island’s 1st district.

The list will probably grow, but the number of candidates with a realistic hope to win the empty senatorial seat is limited. If Joe Kennedy II decides to run, it will probably be a close race between him and Martha Coakley. I sincerely doubt that a Republican candidate will give the Democrats much trouble.

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