Joe Kennedy Won't Seek His Uncle's Senate Seat
Decision Leaves Massachusetts Race Wide Open

By Lyndsey Layton
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of Robert F. Kennedy, said Monday that he will not run for the Senate seat held by his late uncle, Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.).

Joseph Kennedy's statement cracks open the race to fill the vacant seat. It also means that, for the first time in 47 years, no Kennedy will represent Massachusetts in Congress.

Kennedy, 56, a Democrat who served six terms in the House and several times considered running for governor, said he cares about social and economic justice but decided the best way to pursue that work was to remain at Citizens Energy Corp., a nonprofit he heads that gives heating assistance to the poor and invests in renewable energy.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D) has called for a Jan. 19 special election to fill the Senate seat, with primaries to be held Dec. 8.

Meanwhile, the state legislature is considering changing the law to allow Patrick to make an interim appointment until the election is held -- a change that was requested by Edward Kennedy in the last weeks of his life. He died Aug. 25 at age 77. The vacancy created in the Senate means that Democrats will lack the 60 votes needed to overturn Republican procedural blocks to the health-care reform effort.

The only candidate to announce an intention to run for Kennedy's seat has been Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, a Democrat. Several other members of the state's congressional delegation, including Democrats Stephen F. Lynch, Michael E. Capuano and Edward J. Markey, have been waiting for Joseph Kennedy to indicate his plans before making their decisions about whether to run. Former congressman Martin T. Meehan, another Democrat, is also weighing whether to join the race.

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