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Rep. Joe Kennedy Says He Won't Seek Re-Election


WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, March 13) -- Rep. Joe Kennedy, who last summer decided against seeking the Massachusetts governorship, said Friday he has decided not to run for re-election to Congress.

Kennedy, 45, said he wants to turn his attention to his family and the Citizens Energy Corporation, a non-profit he founded that provides energy assistance to low-income families.

"Every couple years you should re-evaluate where you're at," Kennedy told a Boston news conference. "This is something that I've been thinking about ... I'm looking forward to it."

Kennedy said he has no plans to run for public office in the future, but didn't rule it out. "We'll see what the future brings," he said.

Kennedy has served in Congress since 1986 in a seat once held by his uncle, John F. Kennedy, and later by House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill.

The six-term representative called serving in Congress an "extraordinary honor."

"But in recent months I've come to realize that I also have other responsibilities, and so I've decided not to seek re-election in 1998," he said. "This last year has brought me a new recognition of our own individual vulnerabilities and the vagaries of life.

"Because of the death of my brother Michael, I have a new responsibility at Citizens Energy, a company which I founded and which now requires more ongoing direct attention from me," he said.

The announcement came on the heels of the death of the congressman's brother and chief political adviser, Michael, in a Colorado skiing accident, last year. Michael Kennedy had assumed control of the energy corporation when his brother was first elected to Congress.

Kennedy had considered running for Massachusetts governor this year, but withdrew from that race after reports Michael Kennedy had a sexual relationship with the family babysitter.

Potential candidates for what is considered a safe Democratic seat include state Senate President Thomas Birmingham; George Bachrach, the Democrat who Kennedy defeated in the 1986 primary; state senator Warren Tolman, who represents much of the district in the state legislature and is now a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor; Susan Tracy, a former state representative from the area; and several others.

Kennedy's service praised

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) said he was "proud" of his nephew's decision, saying he would be missed in Congress but would continue in his good public works. "Joe has done an outstanding job in Congress for the people of Massachusetts. I respect his decision and his strong dedication to Citizens Energy, but I'll miss him very very much in the House," the senator said.

"I know that at Citizens Energy, Joe will continue to build on this brilliant record of service to others, through its heating assistance, health care clinics for the needy, and its program for at-risk youth," Sen. Kennedy added.

White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry praised Kennedy for his "incredible service" to the nation and his Massachusetts constituents.

"He has, in his work in the House, demonstrated a commitment to the needs of working families, and how their lives can be improved," McCurry said. "He has been especially vigorous in leading on questions related to the provision of low-cost energy in parts of the country where that is especially important.

"I think that it's safe to say that the president has considered him one of his ... most loyal allies in the House. And I know the president and all Americans will miss his service in the House of Representatives."

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Friday March 13, 1998

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