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Joe Kennedy Decides Against Massachusetts' Governor's Race

Personal, family troubles put the Kennedy winning streak at risk


BOSTON (AllPolitics, Aug. 28) -- Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, reeling from a series of personal and family troubles, announced this afternoon that he would not run for governor of Massachusetts next year. (384K wav sound)

Kennedy told supporters and reporters that he had wanted his gubernatorial campaign to focus on good jobs, education and affordable energy. But, he said, "I've come to the conclusion, reluctantly, that if I am a candidate for governor next year, the focus will not be on those issues; the race will focus on personal and family questions. (416K wav sound)

"It's not fair to my family, it's not fair to the people of Massachusetts, and it's not the right thing to do. Therefore, I've decided not to be a candidate for governor in 1998," he said. Kennedy said he would instead seek re-election to his safe 8th congressional district seat.

Kennedy, the eldest son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, had never formally announced a gubernatorial candidacy. But he had been considered the front-runner for the better part of a year, before he began to be battered by a string of bad news in recent months.


His ex-wife wrote a book accusing him of trying to force her to grant him an annulment, and his brother Michael was accused of having an affair with an underage babysitter. A cousin, publisher John F. Kennedy Jr., added to the controversy with a column in George magazine, saying Joe and Michael Kennedy had become "poster boys for bad behavior" in the public eye. (352K wav sound)

"You have to be realistic about the fact that people, I think, are very angry at members of my family, and me in particular," Kennedy said. "And I accept responsibility for that. I do."

Last month, a Boston Globe/WBZ-TV survey found Kennedy drawing only a 34 percent favorable rating. Kennedy had been viewed favorably by 60 percent of those polled as recently as January.

Kennedy's decision is expected to leave the gubernatorial field to acting Gov. Paul Cellucci and state treasurer Joe Malone, both Republicans, and Democratic Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.

None of the other prospective candidates had any immediate comment on Kennedy's decision. Kennedy said he spoke to Harshbarger and "wish him the best," but declined to say if he'd support him. "I just haven't had a chance to really focus on that," Kennedy said.

The decision also leaves the clan's streak intact: Kennedy family members are 18 for 18 in statewide races in Massachusetts over the past half-century.

In Other News:

Thursday Aug. 28, 1997

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Michael Brown To Plead Guilty
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