Posts tagged Joe Kennedy
Posts tagged Joe Kennedy
"Biggest fish I ever caught and Uncle Teddy tried to claim it was his!”
~ Joe Kennedy
He recalls sitting around the dinner table at his grandmother’s house listening to his aunts and uncles and older cousins debate the issues of the day. At the age of eight, he “pretty much watched”, he says. “It was one of those valuable experiences for me to listen and observe.” This would be the average experience for any child growing up in a large family. But when the family is that great American political dynasty, the Kennedys, and around the dinner table are the many children and grandchildren of the late Robert F. Kennedy, it makes the act of speaking up by one of the youngest members of the family that bit more daunting.
The exposure to these wide-ranging debates clearly rubbed off on the young Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Bobby; he is the only member of the Kennedy clan currently holding political office in the United States. “You saw how passionate people were, that even in the midst of the same family you could have a spirited debate about various issues,” Kennedy, sitting in his congressional office on Capitol Hill in Washington, says of those regular family dinners.
“We have got a big family and people were going off all over the country, all around the world doing different things. No one is shy. They all had the courage to be able to stand up and speak their minds.”
Kennedy was elected to the House of Representatives for Massachusetts ’ fourth congressional district last November, winning an impressive 61 per cent of the vote against Republican nominee Sean Bielat.
The self-effacing and intelligent 32-year-old is the son of Sheila Rauch and Joseph P Kennedy II, the second of Bobby and Ethel Kennedy’s children and himself a Democratic congressman from 1987 to 1999. Joseph P Kennedy III and his twin brother, Matt, have been immersed in politics from an early age. They were born in October 1980, around the time when his father was working on the presidential campaign of then US senator Ted Kennedy. Some of his earliest memories were of the campaign trail when his father first ran for Congress. He and his brother were six years old and enjoyed playing with campaign confetti at rallies.
“I have snapshots of that very first campaign. There are still some photographs up in my dad’s house. Both my brother and I got married last year so there were rather embarrassing photographs of us at various campaign events when we were yay tall,” he says, holding up a hand.
The freshman congressman, just two months in elected office, is deeply proud of his family’s long-standing service to public life in Massachusetts and the US. He understands the weight of the family name he carries in political office but equally he wants to plough his own furrow.
Kennedy ran an aggressive campaign last year, wearing out shoe leather meeting voters in a district spanning Brookline near Boston in the north to the southern Massachusetts coast. He says he wanted constituents to “come out and kick the tyres” – to meet him and to understand first hand his policies and values.
“It was extraordinarily important for me to give people that opportunity so they understand who they are voting for and supporting,” he says.
“I am extraordinarily proud of my family but it is important for people to know the real me and not just what they might think of when they think of various members of my family.”
Polite, eloquent and considered, Kennedy speaks with great authority and bears a striking resemblance to his grandfather. He has been busy working at his desk, despite wearing a heavily supportive sling on his right arm – the result of treatment to fix an old sporting injury. He played lacrosse while studying at Stanford University in California. A teetotal, his teammates nicknamed him “The Milkman” after one party when he matched every beer his friends drank with a glass of milk.
Kennedy studied management science and engineering at Stanford. After graduating he worked in the peace corps (founded by his great-uncle, then US president John F Kennedy, in 1961) in the Dominican Republic and East Timor. It was in East Timor that he came across Tom Hyland, the former Dublin Busdriver from Ballyfermot who became a campaigner for Asia’s poorest country – “an incredible guy”, says Kennedy.
After years of travelling, Kennedy wanted to be closer to home so he enrolled in Harvard Law School and later worked as an intern for a Republican district attorney before taking a full-time job as a prosecutor. Prosecuting cases made Kennedy look differently at every file on his desk, each one being “somebody’s life”, he says. He saw them as problems to solve rather than “another person to prosecute”, and that brought him into policy discussions about what could have been done earlier to help the person being charged. “It starts to get you looking further upstream to what caused that crime to be committed.”
In his new job, one of the biggest challenges facing Congress is the long-overdue reform of immigration laws to tackle the US’s 11 million illegal immigrants – the so-called “undocumented” of which there are thousands of Irish, including many in Kennedy’s congressional district in Massachusetts.
Kennedy’s great-uncle Ted tried and failed to push through an immigration Bill with Republican senator John McCain in 2006. But Kennedy believes there is a strong likelihood of legislation passing this time as momentum builds around broad principles on tightening border control, a pathway to citizenship, and simplifying the legal route to a visa to attract job-creating talent to the US.
“We need to get this done now. Not only do I believe it is the right thing to do morally, it is the right thing to do economically. It is the right policy decision. We have got an immigration system that I quite simply believe is broken.”
Another hot political topic is US president Barack Obama’s plans to overhaul gun ownership laws, including a ban on military-style assault weapons. Kennedy unsurprisingly supports the pressure the president is exerting on Congress to vote on the White House’s proposals; his family has experienced its own share of gun violence
“My family, yes, has a personal history with this; far too many other families have as well. I think this is something the president said very eloquently – they deserve a vote,” says Kennedy.
Passing laws through Congress is difficult when a Democratic president is continuously clashing with a House of Representatives led by Republicans, particularly over divisive budgetary issues. For a new Democratic congressman in a Republican-controlled chamber, Kennedy admits this can be “frustrating”.
“There is a party in charge here that largely wants smaller government … so fewer days in session and less legislation passed isn’t necessarily a defeat for them – that is in fact what they are looking for,” he says.
Kennedy believes government “can be a source for good” and that Congress has to “start taking on some of these problems in a real and big way”.
One of the few occasions when Democrats and Republicans put aside their differences is St Patrick’s Day. This year, Republican House speaker John Boehner will host the traditional Irish-American lunch on Capitol Hill for the Taoiseach, his visiting party and members of Congress.
Kennedy is not sure whether the congeniality that gets a small country access to the corridors of power in Washington is unique to Ireland, but it is very powerful, he says, and something he values.
“People like to be around folks who are friendly, jovial, who like to laugh and have a joke and enjoy themselves. That’s one of the great things whenever you see the St Paddy’s Day up in Boston and around the country. It is a time of joy, a time of reflection, a time of friends coming together, a time of enjoying each other’s company.”
Kennedy’s Irish heritage is “extremely important” to him, he says, acknowledging the service of his great-aunt Jean Kennedy Smith as US ambassador to Ireland, the role Ted Kennedy played in the Northern Irish peace process, and his father’s commitment to Ireland while serving in Congress. He visited Dublin a year and a half ago and is “trying to find a way back this summer”.
“The roots are so deep and, for so many members of my family, despite the fact that we might be gone a while, it is still considered by so many of us a home away from home and looked on very fondly.”
Two other prominent Irish-Americans in US politics, congressmen Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey, are fighting it out to be on the Democratic ticket in the June election for the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by former presidential nominee John Kerry after Obama installed him as secretary of state.
Kennedy declines to say which of his congressional colleagues he will be backing. “Both of them are extraordinarily impressive individuals who will serve Massachusetts really well in the Senate or Congress,” he says.
And would this be a seat he would have an eye on in the future? “My friend, the only seat I have an eye on is the one I am sitting in right now,” he says, flashing that famous Kennedy smile
The Kennedy Legacy continues - Joe Kennedy II and Joe Kennedy III on the House floor during swearing-in ceremonies on Capitol Hill, January 2013.
BOSTON (AP) — Joseph Kennedy III has been sworn in as the state’s newest congressman.
The Brookline Democrat fills the 4th Congressional District seat formerly held by Barney Frank.
Kennedy took his oath of office on the House floor Thursday.
Kennedy said in a statement that he looked forward to working with constituents, community leaders and local officials to help preserve what he called the 4th District’s “proud tradition of innovation and a work ethic that has fueled economic growth for generations.”
The state’s eight other House members — all Democratic incumbents — were also sworn in Thursday.
Kennedy is the first member of the famous political clan to take a seat in Congress since the death of his uncle, Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, in 2009 and the retirement of Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, Edward Kennedy’s son, in 2011.
Representative-elect Joseph P. Kennedy III wed fiancée Lauren Anne Birchfield on Saturday afternoon in Corona del Mar, California surrounded by family and friends, according to spokeswoman Emily Browne.
Birchfield’s father, the Rev. Jim Birchfield, officiated at the ceremony at Community Church, Browne said in a statement.
Kennedy, the 32-year-old son of Joseph P. Kennedy II, former US representative, and the grandson of US Senator Robert F. Kennedy, beat Republican Sean Bielat last month to win the Congressional seat left vacant by the retirement of U.S. Representative Barney Frank.
Birchfield’s parents announced Kennedy and Birchfield’s engagement in January.
Community Church, where Mr and Ms. Kennedy were married, is set in this quiet residential neighborhood near the Pacific Ocean and holds about 200 people.
Corona del Mar (Spanish for “Crown of the Sea”) is a well-heeled neighborhood in Newport Beach, California. The new bride grew up in Southern California.
Ms Kennedy was a Rhodes finalist at UCLA, where she graduated in 2006 with a degree in political science. She also studied at Oxford University in England, and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2009.
Ms Kennedy has worked on human rights and health care policy, and recently accepted a position with the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of Massachusetts where she will focus on health care policy. She currently lives in Boston.
NEWTON (CBS/AP) – Democrat Joe Kennedy III has beat out Republican Sean Bielat in the race to replace retiring Rep. Barney Frank.
Kennedy is the first of his famous political family’s generation to seek elective office.
He is the son of Joseph P. Kennedy II, who represented the state’s 8th Congressional District for six terms from 1987-1999, and the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy.
A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and a Brookline resident, the younger Kennedy served in the Peace Corps, worked as a prosecutor in Massachusetts and in 2006 co-managed with his twin brother Matt the final campaign of their great-uncle, Sen. Edward Kennedy, who died of cancer in 2009.
The past two years marked the first time since the election of his great-uncle John F. Kennedy to the House in 1946 that a member of the Kennedy family had not served in elective office in Washington.
Kennedy released a statement applauding his opponent and vowing to continue his fight in Washington.
“Since the beginning, this campaign has been defined by a grassroots operation that refused to slow down or take one day for granted. We came together because we believe in the simple, American idea that hard work pays off; that each of us deserves the opportunity to succeed. That promise has guided me through this race and is what I will fight for every day down in Washington,” the statement said in part. “Our victory tonight is a testament to the incredible efforts of thousands of volunteers across the district that spent the past year working tirelessly for the country they believe in. I’d like to thank my opponent, Sean Bielat for a hard-fought campaign and for his lifelong commitment to public service, and wish him and his family the best. Tonight, I am proud to address the 4th District tonight as their next U.S. Congressman, humbled by the incredible show of support, and ready to get to work.”
Bielat, a Norfolk businessman who won plaudits from Republicans for a spirited campaign against Frank two years ago, was again the decided underdog in the election
Joseph Patrick Kennedy, III (31), first of the new generation of his famous family to seek elected office.
Joe Kennedy III and the Neverending Kennedy Magic
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We may never stop measuring our lives in Kennedys. The Jack guys are all gone, and the Bobby guys are fewer by the years. For better or worse, for Democrats and Republicans, they have been the dynastic metric of the second half of the 20th century and, most amazing of all, of a good chunk of the beginning of the current one. They redefined public service. They redefined political celebrity for a new media age, and they lived within that context, for good and for ill, for the unbearably tragic and, occasionally, unbearably unbearable. Theirs is a history of public service unrivaled by that of any other family save (perhaps) the Windsors, and they get formally dragooned into it from birth. Theirs is a family history of public scandal and public political murder unrivaled by that of any other family save the Borgias. The Kennedys are our sacrifices and our scapegoats, and they stubbornly insist on volunteering for both jobs generation after generation. Sooner or later, one thinks, at least one of them has to chuck it all and live as a beachcomber clipping coupons in Palm Beach.
On Tuesday night, Joseph Kennedy III, grandson of a murdered senator and grand-nephew of a murdered president, introduced a video tribute to yet another of his grand-uncles, Senator Edward Kennedy, who passed away between the last Democratic convention and this one. He is impossibly young, red-haired, and he favors his mother, Sheila Rauch, a formidable woman who, when she was divorcing his father, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, took on the Archdiocese of Boston in a noisy battle over her ex-husband’s desire to annul their marriage, sinking the first real dent into the armor of the predator-enabling, conspirator to obstruct justice, Bernard Cardinal Law. It’s a pretty safe bet that, for all the “Kennedys Don’t Cry” family lore, there is a toughness to this Kennedy that he did not get from his father’s side of the family.
He’s running for Congress now, seeking to replace the retiring Barney Frank. People who have worked with him both in the campaign, and in his day job as an assistant district attorney, talk about how humble and decent he is, the kind of guy who volunteers to take the real grunt work of a public prosecutor, weekend DUI busts and tangled cases of domestic violence. Under their breath, so as not to upset The Family, many of these people make the point that, “He’s a Rauch, He’s not a Kennedy.”
"It’s like recombinant DNA," said Congressman Ed Markey. "You’ve got both those strands twining together."
(The video was a delightful combination of elegy and attack ad. A lot of it was taken up with clips from the debate between Edward Kennedy and Willard Romney during their 1994 Senate race in which Romney came off looking very badly. In fact, I’d forgotten how much of an obviously snippy lord of the manor type he was back in his younger days. This prompted some Twittery whinging from obvious anagram Reince Priebus, as though that pipsqueak was the true custodian of Edward Kennedy’s legacy, and as though Edward Kennedy himself wouldn’t have been twice as tough in person as he was on film.)
He was a Kennedy on Tuesday night, because that was what the hall was looking for. “Make no mistake,” he said of his late grand-uncle, “he is here with us tonight. You can see it in the passion of our delegates and the character of our candidates. For my uncle Teddy, politics was all about people. he measured things by promotions won and jobs lost, new homes and broken hearts, baptisms and funerals, every precious moment in between…. It guides us in the tough campaign ahead as we fight for the middle class, an economy that’s built to last, defend a woman’s right to choose, protect our seniors’s retirement security, and ask every American to do their part to safeguard the promise of this country.” Three generations of delegates pretended to be young again.
It was quick and it was modest and it was over very quickly. “It’s still magic,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, who has been campaigning with Kennedy because some of McGovern’s old congressional district now belongs to the district Kennedy wants to represent. “He’s got the ideals of his great-uncle and his grandfather, but he’s also very thoughtful and level-headed, a normal guy.”
It has taken four generations for the Kennedy family to get back to normal again. Who knows what they’ll find there now that they have?
Bringing the old Kennedy magic back on track!
The voter of tomorrow
Joe Kennedy - Born for politics
Joe Kennedy is running for Congress in the Massachusetts 4th Congressional District. Before running, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for Middlesex County, Massachusetts, prosecuting a wide variety of misdemeanors and felonies including assaults, domestic violence and drug offenses. Prior to joining the Middlesex County office he served the counties of Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket as an Assistant District Attorney.
Joe graduated from Harvard Law School, where he was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, a student managed pro-bono law firm serving some of Boston’s most impoverished neighborhoods. Among other clients, he represented tenants who – despite paying their bills – were forced out of their homes by banks after they foreclosed on delinquent landlords.
In addition to his studies inside the classroom and legal aid work, Joe was technical editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal and co-founded an empowerment program for at-risk youth in a Boston public school. He helped design and teach a curriculum in which students used photography to discuss the challenges of crime, drugs, and poverty facing their neighborhoods.
Joe served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic from 2004-2006. Assigned near Puerto Plata, Joe helped local residents establish control over the Río Damajagua waterfall national park and raised more than $100,000 in seed money to transform the tour guide community into a sustainable business. He put in place a governing structure that fairly compensated local guides for their work, allowed them control of the park, and—most uniquely—established a community fund that reinvested profits from the park into education, infrastructure, and recreation investments back into their community. As a result, the tour guides received higher wages, more jobs were created and the community fund has financed projects that have brought water to over one hundred homes, purchased a new school bus, constructed a basketball court, established a scholarship fund, and built a small police station.
Joe studied Management Science and Engineering at Stanford University, where he was the starting goalie and co-captain of the Men’s Lacrosse team. He speaks fluent Spanish.
NEWTON - Joseph P. Kennedy III’s candidacy for office may still be uncertain - but you would never know it, judging from the voters at a Democratic caucus here yesterday.
Kennedy, who is considering a bid for the congressional seat being vacated by Barney Frank, a Democrat, made an appearance at the caucus held at Newton South High School to shake hands and meet potential supporters. Elizabeth Warren, who is challenging Senator Scott Brown, a Republican, in the next election, also came to the caucus, delivering enthusiastic speeches to local Democrats.
Kennedy, the 31-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, announced last month that he had created an exploratory committee to determine whether a run for the seat would be viable and resigned from his job at the Middlesex district attorney’s office.
Democrats’ reaction to his potential candidacy has been positive, many viewing him as next in line to carry on the Kennedys’ political success. According to poll statistics released Thursday by the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Boston Herald, Kennedy would defeat Sean Bielat, a Republican, in the race for Frank’s seat by 2 to 1.
And for most at the caucus, where registered Democrats gathered to choose delegates for the state’s Democratic convention, Kennedy’s candidacy is a foregone conclusion.
Volunteers collected signatures, as required for him to appear on the ballot. People remarked “Go get ’em!’’ and “Good luck to you!’’ as he passed in the school’s hallways. Others took videos on cellphones. One woman declared, “I never do this!’’ when she asked Kennedy to pose with her for a photo.
Kennedy was modest about local Democrats’ confidence in his candidacy, demurring when asked about when he will announce his candidacy.
He maintained that his appearance at Newton’s Democratic caucus was not a bout of preliminary campaigning, but instead just an opportunity to see “what’s on people’s minds.’’
“People have been encouraging, and that’s been very humbling, but it’s a long way to go,’’ Kennedy said. “We’re going step by step.’’
Brooke Lipsitt, former president of the Newton Board of Aldermen, embraced Kennedy a few moments after he entered the caucus, shaking his hand and saying, “I remember meeting your dad when he was about to run for office!’’
A powerful political pedigree isn’t a free ticket to Washington, Joseph P. Kennedy III admitted yesterday even after a UMass Lowell/Boston Herald poll showed his name recognition gives him a huge lead in the race to win the 4th Congressional District.
The 31-year-old Kennedy told the Herald it will be hard-fought campaigning that will allow him to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank.
“It’s about earning the vote,” he said. “That’s the one thing that I’ve always learned from watching campaigns. It’s knocking on more doors and making more phone calls. It’s me trying to get to know” voters.
The poll, testing the 4th Congressional District, showed Kennedy trouncing potential Republican challenger Sean Bielat, 60 percent to 28 percent.
Critics warn the poll reflects a name-only sensibility among voters, who have not yet vetted potential-candidate Kennedy for the seat. The poll even shows his father, Joseph P. Kennedy II, has a slightly higher favorability rating — 51 percent for the son to 55 percent for the dad.
“He’s not well known, and has no negatives,” said GOP strategist Todd Domke. “This could be his peak. It shows that a case will have to be made against him.”
Domke added because the younger Kennedy “doesn’t have a scandal,” it’s actually a qualification for him.
Domke also echoed that Kennedy’s success will depend on not assuming any lead, or relying too heavily on his name.
“If he runs that this is his natural inheritance with very little experience, there will be resentment,” Domke said.
Still, experts said the poll results are staggering.
“It’s a stunning number. There’s an enormous well of affection in Massachusetts for the Kennedys,” said Democratic strategist Scott Ferson. “Joe is exactly right, if he does the work and presents himself and doesn’t take anything for granted, he’ll get that and more.”
The poll also showed that 34 percent of 4th District voters felt that the Kennedy family has too much influence in the Bay State, while 56 percent of respondents said that his last name made no difference to them.
And Kennedy, whose announcement is on the horizon, previewed a campaign point he will be talking about, should he make the run.
“All over, it’s a theme of fairness. That’s the issue that keeps coming up,” he said. “The American dream is in danger of escaping people.”
The UMass Lowell/Herald poll also shows there are still a lot of potential voters — a solid 10 percent — who can’t make up their mind if they’re ready for another Kennedy or not.