Joseph P. Kennedy III, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, brought the family name back into the political spotlight today by announcing his candidacy to replace retiring U.S. Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts.
“My family has had the great privilege of serving Massachusetts before,” he said in a video posted on his website. “They taught me that public service is an honor.”
The former Middlesex County prosecutor moved to Brookline in the state’s Fourth Congressional District and registered to vote there on Feb. 7. The district stretches from Boston’s suburbs to the state’s south coast. He was scheduled to make several campaign stops today, starting in Newton, where he greeted Boston-bound commuters at a rail station.
Kennedy, a 31-year-old Democrat whose great uncles include President John F. Kennedy and U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, would return the family to the halls of Congress should he win the party primary and the general election in November. Cousin Patrick’s retirement as a U.S. representative for Rhode Island ended 63 years in which a member of the storied clan had served in elective office in Washington.
His family name has already proven advantageous. Having never run for office until now, Kennedy was regarded favorably by 55 percent of those surveyed in a University of Massachusetts-Lowell poll of 408 registered voters this month. Kennedy also held a 60-28 percent lead in the same poll over Republican Sean Bielat, who ran against Frank two years ago. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 6.4 percentage points.
The AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor union, endorsed him by a vote of its Executive Council’s Committee Feb. 12, a week before he formally announced, according to the group’s website.
The son of six-term Massachusetts Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, he served in the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic before starting as a prosecutor in Barnstable County, which includes the Hyannisport compound owned for generations by his family. He’s a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.
Frank, a Democrat who turns 72 next month, announced his retirement in November, after the once-a-decade redistricting process rearranged the Fourth District.
Herb Robinson of Newton, Jules Levine of Brookline, Paul Heroux of Attleboro, Jack Porter of Newton and Marty Farren of Sharon have also announced they are running as Democrats. Elizabeth Childs of Brookline and Bielat have said they are running for the Republican nomination.