Sunday 17 December 2017

Race to follow Ted waits for family to make up their minds

Orla Healy

THE candidates in the race for Ted Kennedy's senate seat are raring to go -- but it sounds as if they'll have to cool their heels until several high-profile members of the political dynasty decide whether to try to keep the family legacy alive.

Dismissing rumours that have been circulating for months, Kennedy's wife of 17 years, Victoria Reggie, has let it be known in recent days that she has less-than-zero interest in running for the office. In fact, insiders report, she is upset that people think she would assume any right to step into her late husband's shoes.

Ted's 42-year-old son Patrick, a congressman from Rhode Island, is considered by some to be a potential candidate, although his addiction battle with prescription drugs (which became news after a late-night 2006 car crash, followed by rehab and then a relapse earlier this year) is an issue. Ted's nephew, RFK's son and former US representative Joe, is being coy about his intentions. Described as "brash", "erratic" and "undisciplined" by observers, the 57-year-old (who notoriously insisted on an annulment from his first wife, Sheila Rauch, the mother of his twin sons) has a federal campaign account, with a $1.7m balance, which remains active. However his relationship with Victoria and Patrick is said to be chilly.

And then there's the dark horse -- and sentimental favourite -- who has been generating excited chatter since her uncle's death late on Tuesday night: Caroline. The 51-year-old, who many feel was treated like a political football by New York Governor David Paterson when she voiced interest in Hillary Clinton's vacant Senate seat over the New Year, would face none of the problems she had to deal with in NY if she was to run in Massachusetts.

An early supporter of Team Obama, her candidacy would come with a hefty push from the White House, the support of many within the family, including Victoria and Joe's brother Robert -- and, it's assumed, a crash course in media training.

Under Massachusetts state law, a special election for the seat will be called within 160 days.

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