Political dynasties: Chelsea Clinton isn't running for office, but Donald Trump Jr. might

Story highlights

  • Political dynasties in the US stretch back to its founding
  • Second President John Adams was the father of president No. 6, John Quincy Adams

Washington (CNN)Two children of presidents talked about their own political futures this week. Chelsea Clinton told Variety she's "not running for public office" while Donald Trump Jr. allegedly told members of a New York gun club he's interested in running for office, perhaps New York governor, a guest told the New York Post. CNN reached out to Trump for comment but did not receive a response.

Politics as a family tradition is a source of endless speculation inside of Washington and out, and the weight of being related to a current or former officeholder can be both a blessing and a curse.
Donald Trump, Jr. (L) greets his father Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.
Political dynasties in the US stretch back to its founding -- second President John Adams was the father of president No. 6, John Quincy Adams -- and continue today. In the 2016 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush and Rand Paul all followed family members who previously sought the office. Mitt Romney did it in 2012. Congress is filled with children of former members.
The prospect of the family members of politicians running for office themselves can be irresistible for political junkies and casual observers alike. Chelsea Clinton told Variety she's been asked questions about running for office since she was young.
"I really am constantly surprised by the stories of me running for, fill in the blank -- Congress, Senate, City Council, the presidency," she said. "I really find this all rather hysterical because I've been asked this question a lot throughout my life, and the answer has never changed."
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton looks on with husband and former U.S. President Bill Clinton and daughter, Chelsea Clinton after the Presidential Debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Hofstra University on September 26, 2016 in Hempstead, New York.
The endless questions stem in part from the human interest in multi-generational political sagas, sons avenging their parent's loss, daughters continuing their parent's legacy. It also boils down to name recognition, a crucial ingredient to political success.
Jeb Bush started the 2016 campaign with near-universal name recognition; only 8% of Republican and Republican-leaning registered voters said they had never heard of him, according to an April 2015 Pew poll, but he also had among the highest unfavorable rating, with a quarter who said there was "no chance" they would vote for him. Distancing himself from his former president father and brother, Bush told voters "I am my own man."
Former US President George H.W. Bush (C) and his son, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R), arrive at the West Wing of the White House in Washington on January 30, 2010 for a meeting with US President Barack Obama.
Should Donald Trump Jr. chose to become his family's next politician, he'd likely face a similar situation, the one gubernatorial candidate in the race everyone's familiar with not only in New York, but across the country and around the world. But he'd also be tied to his father, who's unpopular in their home state, losing New York to Hillary Clinton 59% to 36.5% in November.