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Kennedy Family Planning Political Comeback

April 2, 2017

Friday night I had a conversation with a woman who was a complete stranger.  We were chatting in a restaurant for a few minutes and the topic of Washington, D.C. came to the front of the line and I mentioned something about Edward Kennedy and the way he was placed near his two brothers at Arlington.  The woman was in her sixties and said “you are going to make me cry.”    There is still a national tug that compels us to look to that family for political energy and recall deep-seated memories.  Which then leads me to post a great read in the Sunday newspapers as America’s favorite political family ponders a return to politics.

Caroline Kennedy, daughter of the slain President John F. Kennedy, is now home from a stint as ambassador to Japan during the Obama years. She is often the subject of speculation about a Senate run from New York, but family members say a campaign is highly unlikely.

Chris Kennedy, 53, is putting his famous last name front and center in his gubernatorial bid, where the word “Kennedy” polls well, according to his team, particularly among older voters who tend to come out in an Illinois Democratic primary.

Cousin Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late Massachusetts senator, is mulling his own 2018 gubernatorial run in Connecticut, where he’s a member of the state Senate. Then there’s Joe Kennedy III, the third-term Massachusetts congressman, grabbing the national spotlight to help defeat Trump’s health care plan — prompting big questions about his next move.

They’re trying to stage a family comeback for one of the most famous names in politics at a time when voters just rejected political elites, and as dynasties on the political left and right crumbled.

History has not been kind to the descendants of the founding brothers of the Kennedy clan — John, Robert, and Edward — when it comes to ascending to statewide office, to the Senate or a governorship. Several have publicly pondered such a step up, but backed off in the end. One who tried — Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, a daughter of Robert Kennedy — stumbled badly in her bid to be governor of Maryland.

But, in the current climate, the spotlight is finding the Kennedy hopefuls again. And members of the clan say the reasons are clear: There’s a Republican in the White House and a vacuum of power in the Democratic party.

“When President Obama was president, he got all the attention,” said Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who was Maryland’s lieutenant governor from 1995 to 2003. “People are looking at other young Democratic stars who are coming up, and they are looking at our family.”

This surprises some because the Kennedy family’s political might has faded significantly in the past decade. The last round of Kennedys to take up the family torch has all exited public life.

“I thought it was over for that generation. I’m surprised that they’re coming forward,” said Laurence Leamer, a biographer who has written three books on Kennedy family. “

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