Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (D-Conn.) isn't the only presidential candidate with Jewish roots.
According to a report by the Boston Globe, Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) has Jewish grandparents. Kerry had long known that his paternal grandmother was of Jewish origin. But the report that his paternal grandfather was Jewish was news to the 2004 presidential candidate.
"This is incredible stuff," Kerry said in a story published in Sunday's Globe. "I think it is more than interesting; it is a revelation."
The newspaper, which hired a genealogist to look into Kerry's family background, found that his grandfather, Frederick A. Kerry, was born Fritz Kohn, to Jewish parents in what is now the Czech Republic. Kohn changed his name around 1902, a few years before he immigrated to the United States, where he eventually settled in the Boston area. The elder Kerry later converted to Catholicism, the faith that was passed down to the senator.
The genealogist who conducted the study, Felix Gundacker of the Institute for Historical Family Research in Vienna, Austria, told the paper he is "1,000 percent" certain Kerry's grandfather was Jewish.
The report adds diversity and clarity to the senator's sometimes poorly understood family background. Kerry has long been stereotyped as a "Boston Brahmin," owing to his mother's connections to the storied Forbes and Winthrop families of New England. He has also been often misidentified as Irish American because of his surname and, perhaps, because he represents Boston and its large Irish American population. His brother, meanwhile, converted to Judaism two decades ago after marrying a Jewish woman.
But the report suggests Kerry was most struck by the new details on his grandfather's death. Kerry had known that it was a suicide, but knew little else about it. The paper reported that in 1921, Frederick Kerry walked into Boston's Copley Plaza Hotel, went into a bathroom and shot himself in the head.
"How many times have I walked into that hotel . . . ." the senator told the Globe.
Former DNC Chairman Enters Indiana Governor's Race
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew has announced that he will run for governor of Indiana in 2004. Andrew, who headed the committee from 1999 to 2001, previously chaired the Hoosier state's Democratic Party and, since then, has worked at the law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.
His announcement comes after two of Indiana's most prominent Democrats, Lt. Gov. Joe Kernan and Sen. Evan Bayh, both passed on the race. The incumbent, Democratic Gov. Frank L. O'Bannon, is barred by state term-limit laws from running again this year. Thus far, state Sen. Vi Simpson is the only other Democrat to throw a hat into the ring.
Several Republicans have declared their candidacies, but the field could change if White House Budget Director Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., who is said to be thinking about it, decides to return home to Indiana to run for the job.