The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.
So, Joe Kennedy III appears poised to return his famous family to political office. His father, Joe, was a Congressman from the 8th congressional district, that seat famously held by his uncle Jack before he became President. Young Joe has resigned from his post in the Middlesex District Attorney’s office and set up an exploratory committee. But, is he a shoo-in simply because of his name?
Not necessarily. Only need look only at his uncle Max Kennedy who, for a nanosecond in 2001, was a candidate for the late Joe Moakley’s seat in Congress. In his first political speech, he lost his place, got confused, and unaccountably giggled. Onlookers speculated he was caught off guard by the media hordes. In later presentations, he got some facts wrong and was perceived as stumbling and inept. In presentation coaching, I’ve often used that particular Kennedy oops as an example of someone who thought he could just go out there and not have to prepare for it. His candidacy was short-lived, as was that of the normally poised Caroline Kennedy, who briefly ran for U.S. Senate from New York, with similar results.
But, while not being a shoo-in, Joe Kennedy III could shape the race for the retiring Barney Frank’s district. As the Boston Globe noted this morning, people may not know Joe specifically, but they sure do know his family. Some voters will reject him due to lingering antipathy to the Kennedy family; others (including some blue-collar Democrats who voted for Scott Brown and want to atone for that) want to restore the dynasty.
We all, of course, have to find out much more about him: what his policy prescriptions are, how he responds to tough questions, what makes him tick. He is largely a blank slate, with a broad smile and engaging manner. The couple of times I’ve met him, he has demonstrated he has “the touch.” He’s friendly and down to earth, looks you straight in the eye, seems to value the connection, however brief. Well pedigreed, he is said to be very bright. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and my initial impression of Joe Kennedy III is very positive.
This all makes for a very interesting contest, one about which there are no foregone conclusions, Kennedy or not.