Saturday, April 21, 2012

Throwback – A Kennedy Campaigning for Congress with the Help of His Family

Echoes of John Fitzgerald Kennedy and 1946

For those of a certain age the Kennedy mystique will not be diminished.  Regardless of scandals, electoral disappointments and tragic deaths, a generation of Americans is still thrilled, or at least still interested in the political aspirations of the extended Kennedy family.  Now a grandson of Robert Kennedy, Joe Kennedy III is running for Congress in Massachusetts and the memories are coming back.

The eldest son of Joe and Rose Kennedy, Joe Kennedy Jr. had been designated by his father to be the political standard bearer of the family.  But Joe Jr. was killed in World War II, and his younger brother Jack took over the political ambitions, starting with a successful run for Congress in 1946.  That run was successful not only because of the money Joe Sr. poured into the campaign, but also because the entire Kennedy family devoted themselves to winning the election.  The Kennedy women in particular hosted numerous campaign events designed to introduce Jack to the voters, and their efforts created the model for Jack’s later election to the Senate, which of course lead to the Presidency.

Now a fourth generation Kennedy is making a run for Congress, and it looks like the family has dusted off the old campaign model.

Mr. Kennedy's relatives, including former California first lady Maria Shriver and Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, have hosted well-publicized campaign events for him on both coasts.

And it would be difficult to compete with that star power.  And of course there is the money.

Joseph P. Kennedy III, the likely Democratic challenger for the Massachusetts U.S. House seat held by the retiring Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, said he raised $1.3 million in the first three months of the year, a huge sum for a first-time contender that indicates the Kennedy brand still resonates with liberal donors.

In fact, to campaign against that his Republican rival uses a strategy that former opponents of Kennedy’s have used.

Mr. Bielat is already trying to use that star power against Mr. Kennedy. He said in a statement that Mr. Kennedy "kicked off his campaign with fundraisers in Hollywood and K Street" and that it would be a challenge to compete with the "big money checks that oil the Kennedy-Democratic machine."

And yes, it is expected to work about as well as the strategy did against the electoral campaigns of John, Robert and Edward Kennedy.

An early poll, by the Boston Herald and the University of Massachusetts Lowell, showed Mr. Kennedy leading Mr. Bielat 60% to 28%.

And one final thing working for Mr. Kennedy.  Voters in Boston may feel a lot of remorse about allowing Republican Scott Brown to succeed to the Senate seat of the late Edward Kennedy.  As well they should.

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