Sunday 25 February 2018

End of an era as Kennedy's son bows out of US politics

Washington left without a member of the dynasty that held office since 1947

The late US Senator Edward Kennedy with daughter Kara and his troubled son Patrick in Boston in May 2008.
The late US Senator Edward Kennedy with daughter Kara and his troubled son Patrick in Boston in May 2008.

Toby Harnden in Washington

America's fabled Camelot dynasty is set to come to an end after the son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy said he would not run for re-election to Congress in November.

The decision means that Washington will soon be left without a member of the Kennedy clan holding political office for the first time since 1947.

Representative Patrick Kennedy (42) of Rhode Island, who has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, is to announce tomorrow that his life is "taking a new direction" and indicated that the death of his father in August was a factor in his decision.

"Illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidant, my ultimate source of spirit and strength," he said in a television message as a black-and-white photograph of him as a boy sailing with his father appeared on the screen.


"From the countless lives he lifted, to the American promise he helped shape, my father taught me that politics, at its very core, was about serving others."

The announcement is another blow to US President Barack Obama, coming a month after the stunning upset in Massachusetts when Scott Brown, a Republican, won the Senate seat that Edward Kennedy had held since 1962.

Mark Weiner, a major Democratic fundraiser in Rhode Island and one of Mr Kennedy's leading financial backers, said that the senator's death had taken an enormous toll on his son.

"It's tough to get up and go to work every day when your partner is not there. I think he just had a broken heart after his father passed away."

Mr Kennedy fought a public battle with addiction to prescription medications after crashing his car into security barriers at the Capitol in Washington in May 2006.

He spent a month in treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and under an agreement with prosecutors pleaded guilty to one count of driving while under the influence of prescription drugs.

He won re-election in 2008 with about 70pc of the vote.

Last June, Mr Kennedy announced he was checking into an unidentified medical facility for additional help in dealing with substance abuse. He underwent a 28-day programme, the 'Washington Post' reported in July.

A recent poll by television station WPRI indicated Mr Kennedy could be in political trouble.

In the January 27 to 31 survey of 250 voters in Kennedy's district, 35pc said they would vote to re-elect him, while 59pc said they would consider another candidate or that he should be replaced. Mr Kennedy's House district is one of Rhode Island's two; it encompasses the entire eastern section of the state and includes much of the Providence area.

Mr Kennedy was first elected to his seat in 1994.

He headed the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which works to elect party candidates to the House, during the 2000 campaign season.

His father, who died last August at age 77, first won election to the senate from Massachusetts in 1962.

House majority leader Steny Hoyer praised Mr Kennedy for the "significant contributions he has made, particularly as a leader on mental health parity".

Irish Independent

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