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The top family feuds in politics

Earlier this week, we asked Fix readers to help us identify the biggest family feuds in politics. The Fix readers delivered, pointing out some great ones. 

Below is our list of the top family rivalries in politics, culled from reader suggestions and our own brainstorming. Did we miss any? The comments section awaits your input.

* The Moores and the Rockefellers (West Virginia): This is the one that got us thinking about family feuds in the first place. GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito kicked off her 2014 Senate campaign earlier this week, and if Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) decides to run for reelection, the next chapter of a longstanding rivalry will be written. Capito's father Arch Moore defeated Rockefeller in the 1972 governor's race, while Rockefeller returned the favor by beating the Republican for the state's top job in 1980. (Rockefeller also played a big role in beating back Moore’s failed 1978 Senate campaign.) 

* The Palins and the Murkowskis (Alaska): When longtime Sen. Frank Murkowski (R) won the governorship in 2002, then-Wasilla mayor Sarah Palin (R) lost her bid for lieutenant governor, then lost to now-Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), whom Frank Murkowski appointed as his replacement in the upper chamber. (Palin was also on the short-list.) In 2006, Palin defeated Gov. Murkowski  in a primary; and in 2010, she backed long-shot conservative Joe Miller's primary challenge against Sen. Murkowski. (Palin also backed a Murkowski opponent in 2004). Miller defeated Murkowski in the primary, but the senator would go on to wage a successful write-in bid in the general election. 

* The Rangels and the Powells (New York): Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (D) served in Congress for 25 years before he was defeated by now-Rep. Charles Rangel (D) in 1970. Powell's grandson son Adam Clayton Powell IV (D) would go on to challenge Rangel twice, in 1994 and 2010. Rangel survived both challenges, and Powell IV endorsed him in his tough 2012 reelection bid. Powell IV has raised the possibility of running for the Harlem-based seat again after Rangel retires. 

* The Rendells and the Caseys (Pennsylvania): Former governor Robert Casey Sr. (D) defeated Ed Rendell (D) in the 1986 Democratic gubernatorial primary. Sixteen years later,  Rendell beat Bob Casey Jr. (D), now a U.S. senator, in the 2002 Democratic gubernatorial primary. 

While the families have opposed each other in two elections, they also have a history of working alongside one another. This is not a heated rivalry filled with any bad blood. For example, Rendell was Casey Sr.'s campaign co-chair in 1986, following the primary. As governor, Casey Sr. also worked closely with Rendell, who was mayor of Philadelphia. 

* The Kennedys vs. the Lodges (Massachusetts): You have to go back in history a bit for this one. Future president John F. Kennedy (D) unseated Sen. Henry Cabot Lodge (R) in 1952. Then, in 1960, Lodge was Richard Nixon's running mate against Kennedy in the presidential election. Two years later, Lodge's son lost a Senate race to Ted Kennedy, John F. Kennedy's brother. 

* The Perlmutters and the Coors (Colorado): This is a friendly rivalry more than it is a feud, but we still felt it worthy of inclusion. Two families who live in close proximity and have deep ties to one another found themselves in opposition this year when Joe Coors (R) (of the well-known brewing family) decided to challenge Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D), who lives around the corner form him. Perlmutter won, defeating the longtime next-door neighbor of his father, Leonard.

Updated at 11:00 a.m. on 12/3 

6:07 p.m. 12/3 CORRECTION: The previous version of this post incorrectly stated Adam Clayton Powell IV's relationship to Adam Clayton Powell Jr. He is the son of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.  

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.



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Natalie Jennings · November 30, 2012

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