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Massachusetts Governor's Race in Uproar

Weld's out, Kennedy battles twin scandals: what's next?

Kennedy

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 29) -- It looked like a reasonably tough race for the Massachusetts governorship was shaping up for next year. Most would have given the nod in the end to the popular incumbent, GOP Gov. William Weld, over his likely challenger, Democratic Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, son of Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.).

But Joe Kennedy's former wife is steaming mad about their annulment, and is making her case not only in public speeches but in a new book, "Shattered Faith." Advantage: Weld.

But then Weld says he won't run for a third term after all, instead accepting President Bill Clinton's invite to become ambassador to Mexico. Advantage: Joe Kennedy.

And now charges of statutory rape are floating around Kennedy's brother, Michael Kennedy, who is not a public official but who was expected to run Joe Kennedy's gubernatorial campaign. Michael Kennedy allegedly had a sexual relationship with his family's young babysitter, and the county district attorney is looking into it. Disadvantage: Joe Kennedy (not to mention Michael).

Who profits from all this? One clear winner is GOP Lt. Gov. Paul Cellucci, who will now ascend into the governorship as soon as Weld clears out and will be able to run as an incumbent.

Weld

Joe Kennedy's family woes could rally an opponent from within his party, most likely state attorney general Scott Harshbarger, who has a better-than-fighting chance. A recent University of Massachusetts McCormack Institute poll had them in a statistical dead heat, with Joe Kennedy pulling 38 percent and Harshbarger getting 34 percent.

Joe Kennedy has been trying to get out in front of these controversies in public, apologizing last week in a Washington news conference for "mistakes" in his marriage to Sheila Rauch Kennedy. And as far as his brother goes, he told reporters on Monday, "It's a big family, there's always going to be a few little problems along the way," he said, adding, "and this one might not be such a little one for everybody."


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