Points By Drew Pritt

The Unthinkable – Who Succeeds Ted Kennedy????
May 22, 2008, 10:45 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

This day was sure to come some day. The discussion of who would succeed Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. This seat more or less since 1952 has been held by the Kennedy family, sans the two year gap Benjamin A. Smith II held it between the election of John F. Kennedy to the Presidency in 1960 and Ted Kennedy won the seat in a special election in 1962. But now fity six years later, Massachusetts voters will be considering that sooner or later, due to the recent discovery of a massive and almost fatal brain tumor in Ted Kennedy’s brain.


This has been the anchor in Kennedy’s life that has stilled the choppy waters that surrounded Ted Kennedy’s life for so long. Ever since her marriage to Kennedy 16 yrs. ago, she has seemingly influenced him where he ended his philandering with women, has entered A.A. and been sober, and has settled down to a normal life. She was the woman Rose Kennedy had always hoped would marry Ted Kennedy and now in the autumn of his life she has been there. She is largely credited with keeping the family together and helping them work through the death of John F. Kennedy, Jr. Ted Kennedy has expressly stated he wants her to succeed him when it becomes appropriate. However, will she become like Muriel Humphrey, who succeeded her famous husband for over a year but didn’t seek reelection. She could be like Maurine Neuberger, who had been a legislator with her husband in the Oregon State Legislature. Or she could become like Margaret Chase Smith, pick up where her husband left off, and go onto serve a long tenure. She is a native of Louisiana which has seen it’s fair share of wives succeed their husbands in Congress, like Rose McConnell Long or Liddy Boggs. An endorsement of her by a dying Ted Kennedy will carry a lot of weight. And as a recent Congressional special election showed with Nikki Tsongas, being the widow of a popular politician carries a lot of weight, and can lift a candidate over a multi-candidate field.

There are some who remember the electoral woes of Sargent Shriver and think the Kennedy Family may want this seat to remain in the family’s hands, not an in-law or second wife. Unfortunately a messy divorce for former U.S. Congressman Joe Kennedy III, who has passed on multiple Gubernatorial bids even one in which he was an active candidate and the frontrunner, and a conviction at 30 yrs. old of heroin possession by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., seems to at least temporarily keep them from potential involvement. However, one who fits the bill who has become politically active, is well spoken, well liked, and scandal-free is :


The eldest daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis, Caroline is the last remaining member of the quartet since her brother’s tragic death in 1999. Kennedy is an attorney, editor, and writer. She is a resident of New York City, but residency is not such a problem in Massachusetts, especially if you are a Kennedy, and since Caroline inherited the fmaily’s cottage in the Kennedy Family Compound at Hyannis and still stays there. She donated $2300 to Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign but later endorsed Obama very publicly with her uncle Ted and cousin, Patrick, and donated $2300 to Obama. She said in her speech, “I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.” Also she is President of the Kennedy Presidential Library Foundation and an adviser to the Harvard Institute of Politics, not to mention she and her family stay often in Massachusetts, so she is no stranger to the state. With her mother’s looks and class and her dad’s speaking ability, wit, and charm, she could be a dynamo rarely seen in American politics.

There are some who may wish to end the Kennedy Dynasty. If that is so, it will take a candidate with a large war chest, and a storied political career who can wrest the nomination if need be away from a Kennedy appointee. Leading that list has to be :

former U.S. Congressman MARTY MEEHAN

Starting off with $4,829,540 cash  cash on hand in his P.A.C. account, and a popular Congressional career with significant achievements from 1992-2007, before he resigned to accept the Chancellorship of University of Massachusetts. In 1998, 2002, and 2006, he passed off on bids for Governor, though he was the front runner each time. In 2004, had John Kerry won the Presidency, Meehan was seen as the odds on favorite to win this seat. Meehan is a prominent advocate for campaign finance reform and was one of the major sponsors of Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (called the “Shays-Meehan Bill” in the House and the “McCain-Feingold Bill” in the Senate). He has also been noted for his activism on gay rights issues; for example, Meehan is the chief sponsor of the measure repealing the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. One negative that could hurt him is on October 10, 2002, Marty Meehan was among the 81 House Democrats who voted in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.

Another potential self-funder who has always opposed the war and has a wealthy fortune is :


Being successful in politics has yet to be a success for Chris Gabrieli like it has been in business. However, how you exit the stage after losing sometimes is worth more than electoral success. Gabrieli in 1998 lost a bid for U.S. Congress and in 2002 as the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor. In 2006, he ran a strong primary race for Governor against eventual winner, Governor Deval Patrick, and then-Attorney General Tom Reilly. When the votes showed Patrick had won the primary, Gabrieli surprised everyone by showing up at the victory party then climbing on the dais where Patrick was about to claim victory. Gabrieli, literally bowed to Patrick, then hugged him and held Patricks arm up as the victor. In the fall election he raised a lot of money for Patrick’s eventual successful campaign making him Massachusetts first African-American Governor. Couple this political grace with an extremely successful career in business, Gabrieli has the charm and the money to go far. After graduating from Harvard College, he was forced to drop out of Columbia University’s medical school to save his family’s business, a healthcare system software company, from bankruptcy. Gabrieli spent 15 years at Bessemer Venture Partners, investing in and helping innovative young businesses succeed. During his time there, he invested over $1 billion in the economy. Gabrieli served as Chairman of Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s Task Force on After-School Time and was a founding partner and Chairman of Boston’s After-School for All Partnership, a $25 million public-private partnership. Massachusetts 2020 led a pro bono project to help the $30 billion Massachusetts state pension fund (PRIM) evaluate investing some assets along a “double bottom line” strategy to yield both market-rate returns and economic benefits to Massachusetts, such as creating new jobs and expanding home ownership. As a result of the study, PRIM adopted a formal policy to commit up to $600 million in this direction. From 1996 to 2002 Gabrieli served as Chairman of MassINC, a non-partisan, independent policy think tank. He serves on a number of non-profit boards including The Boston Foundation, The Boston Plan for Excellence, The Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, the Boston Public Library Foundation, and both the Harvard School of Public Health and the Boston University School of Public Health. Gabrieli is currently CEO of the Ironwood Equity Fund, a Small Business Investment Corporation (SBIC) that provides growth capital to expansion and later stage businesses in the Northeast. Ironwood focuses on the healthcare, value-added manufacturing, business services, consumer products and retail industries. Prior to the Kennedy health crisis, Gabrieli had been mentioned as a future candidate for Governor or more likely Mayor of Boston to succeed his ally, Menino.

There are other Democrats and this list can change but in addition to these powerhouses above, these other Democrats are the ones to watch, who could move up and make a go.


Congressman Barney Frank, Attorney General Martha Coakley, Congressman Jim McGovern, Congressman Ed Markey, and Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas all have the necessary statewide profile, name i.d., campaign war chest, and have at least privately intimated they would like a promotion to the U.S. Senate. I hestitated putting up first Governor Deval Patrick and former Governor (and ’88 Presidential nominee) Michael Dukakis but then thought otherwise. Patrick’s current unpopularity would be an impediment but electing a well-spoken African-American who has already served statewide worked once….in 1966 till 1978, when a Republican, Ed Brooke served in the U.S. Senate. As for Dukakis, he has remained active since leaving office and is generally well-liked in the state. He could raise the money and could win the seat.


If the Republicans hope to be the first since Brooke to win a Senate seat and the first since Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. in 1946, to win this Senate seat, they will need to bring their “A” game and an “A+” candidate to win this seat. They have at least one who already wanted this Senate seat once.

former Governor MITT ROMNEY

Picture it, 1994 in Massachusetts, site of one of the most exciting U.S. Senate races in the state’s history. Ted Kennedy, scion of one American Political Dynasty, was seeking reelection against a successful entrepeneur and scion of another American Political Dynasty, Mitt Romney, son of former Michigan Governor and Presidential candidate George W. Romney as well as U.S. Senate nominee in Michigan and prominent activist, Lenore Romney. The last time Kennedy had faced off against another family political dynasty, had been 1962, when he smashed then-Attorney General Ed McCormack, nephew of then U.S. Speaker of the House John McCormack, then almost let the election slip away in the General Election to George Cabot Lodge, Jr., son of former U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (whom Kennedy’s brother had beaten in 1952) and grandson of former U.S. Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr. (whom had dispatched the Kennedy’s grandfather Honey Fitzgerald in 1916.) Romney had liberalized his positions, for a practicing Mormon, even embracing the Pro-Choice Community and the Gay & Lesbian Community to beat Kennedy. Some early polls showed Romney close to Kennedy. One Boston Herald/WCVB-TV poll taken after the primary showed Romney ahead 44 percent to 42 percent, within the poll’s sampling margin of error. Kennedy, who typically faced only “token” GOP opposition for his senate seat was more vulnerable than usual in 1994, in part because of the unpopularity of the Democratic Congress as a whole and also because this was Kennedy’s first election since the William Kennedy Smith trialin Florida, in which Ted Kennedy had taken some public relations hits regarding his character. President Bill Clinton traveled to Massachusetts to campaign for Kennedy. After Romney touted his business credentials and his record at creating jobs within his company, Kennedy ran campaign ads showing an Indiana company bought out by Romney’s firm, Bain Capital, and interviews with its union workers who had been fired and criticized Romney for the loss of their jobs, one saying, “I don’t think Romney is creating jobs because he took every one of them away.” Romney claimed that 10,000 jobs were created because of his work at Bain, but private detectives hired by Kennedy found a factory bought by Bain Capital that had suffered a 350-worker strike after Bain had cut worker pay and benefits. Although both Kennedy and Romney supported the abortion rights established under Roe v. Wade, Kennedy accused Romney of being “multiple choice” on the issue, rather than “pro choice.” Romney prior to his bid for President had a very public “conversion” and is now solidly anti-choice and opposes Roe. Romney spent over $7 million of his own money, with Kennedy spending more than $10 million from his campaign fund, mostly in the last weeks of the campaign. Kennedy won the election with 58 percent of the vote to Romney’s 41 percent, the second smallest margin in Kennedy’s nine elections to the Senate through 2006 since 1962. Since Romney’s tenure as Governor in 2002-2006 and then his whirlwind Presidential bid in 2008, Romney is the 900 lb. Gorilla for the anemic Massachusetts Republican Party. Assuming he’s not serving some role elsewhere, Romney almost definitely has first dibs on this Senate seat.

Andrew Card

former White House Chief of Staff ANDY CARD

Card served from 1974-1982 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives then made a losing bid for Governor of Massachusetts in 1982, the year Michael Dukakis made his dramatic comeback to the statehouse. But since then, Card has served as Secretary of Transportation under President George H.W. Bush and White House Chief of Staff under President George W. Bush.  From 1993 to 1998, Card was President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AAMA), the trade association whose members were Chrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation. The AAMA dissolved in December 1998 after Card left. From 1999 until his selection as President Bush’s Chief of Staff, Card was General Motors’ Vice President of Government Relations. Card directed the company’s international, national, state and local government affairs activities and represented GM on matters of public policy before Congress and the Administration. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Union Pacific Railroad.

In his book State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III, Bob Woodward states that Card resigned because he vocally stated that the war in Iraq was becoming another Vietnam War, after twice failing to persuade the President to dismiss Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense with the support of First Lady Laura Bush on his second attempt. On October 30, 2007, Card gave a brief interview to The Harvard Crimson, in which he stated that he resigned because “the president needed for me to leave, and the administration needed to have me leave,” and that he did not want to leave the White House. These statements seem to contradict the official reasons given for his resignation, in that they imply that he did not take the initiative in the decision.

This very public opposition to the Iraqi War could insulate Card in a very anti-war state like Massachusetts.

former Governor PAUL CELLUCCI

Another middle of the road choice who has won statewide is former Governor Paul Cellucci. Cellucci holds the distinction of never having lost an election over his three decades in elected office in overwhelmingly Democratic Massachusetts. He served as a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1977 to 1985. He then became a member of the Massachusetts Senate, serving from 1985 to 1991. From 1991 to 1997 he was Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, becoming the Acting Governor of Massachusetts in 1997 upon the resignation of William Weld. On November 3, 1998, Paul Cellucci was elected as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, narrowly defeating Democratic attorney general Scott Harshbarger. He had successfully fought off a challenge from State Treasurer Joe Malone in the September primary. Cellucci was a fiscally conservative, anti-tax Governor who had the ability to work in a bipartisan fashion with an overwhelmingly Democratic State Legislature. In 2001, the Cato Institute, in its fifth biennial fiscal policy report card, gave Cellucci an “A” grade and said he “earned the distinction of having the best record of reducing taxes and restraining spending growth” among the nation’s 50 governors. Governor Cellucci spearheaded the statewide initiative to reduce the state income tax from 5.95% to 5%, which was approved 59% to 41% by the voters of Massachusetts in November 2000. Cellucci was also successful in maintaining the state’s high education standards for its public schools. Those standards, which required students to pass exams in basic Math and English to receive a high school diploma, were a major piece of the Education Reform Act of 1993 and were phased in over time. The teachers unions wanted to weaken the standards just as they were about to take effect, but Cellucci worked with Speaker of the House Thomas Finneran and Senate President Thomas Birmingham, both Democrats, to hold the line on this issue. The standards have remained in effect and in its June 4, 2007 report card on “No Child Left Behind,” Time Magazine found that Massachusetts students score the best on the federal tests.

As for other Republicans….honestly, I don’t see any. Former Governor Jane Swift and former Lt. Governor Kerry Healey have not distinguished themselves well enough for an honorable mention and former Governor Bill Weld is politically active in New York State now.

A Senate without a Ted Kennedy will seem wierd for awhile but unfortunately that time is swiftly drawing near it seems.


1 Comment so far
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I’m betting on Ted Kennedy.

Comment by Tomas

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