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Long list of potential successors to Kennedy

Long List of potential successors to Kennedy

The push to swiftly name an interim successor to Sen. Edward M. Kennedy intensified Wednesday in the wake of his death, with Gov. Deval Patrick coming out strongly in favor of the idea and other top state lawmakers saying they were reluctant to leave the seat vacant for months.

Kennedy, concerned about the loss of a Democratic vote during the fevered effort to pass national health care reform — his most cherished legislative goal — had asked state leaders in a letter last week to make such a change possible. On Wednesday, Democrats in Washington stepped up pressure on the governor to see Kennedy's wish fulfilled, and state legislative leaders said they would immerse themselves in the issue after a mourning period for Kennedy.

Under current law, a special election could not take place until at least 145 days after a Senate seat opens — in this case, mid January.

Kennedy's proposal would let Patrick, a Democrat, appoint a temporary replacement sooner. The governor said he would sign a change in law if the Legislature approved it. The Legislature is not set to return until after Labor Day. Patrick said it was particularly important for Massachusetts to have two voices in the Senate as Congress prepares to vote on overhauling the health care system — contentious legislation whose passage may well require every Democratic vote.

The long list of potential candidates to replace Kennedy includes congressmen, former prosecutors and, perhaps, a Kennedy nephew. Family aides say Sen. Kennedy's wife, Vicki, is not interested in the seat. One of Kennedy's nephews, former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, has been suggested.

Other potential Democratic contenders include state Attorney General Martha Coakley and Reps. Stephen Lynch, Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, James McGovern and William Delahunt. Also in the mix: former Democratic House member Martin Meehan, who is now chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Republicans face an even tougher climb in a state that leans heavily Democratic. Potential candidates include Cape Cod businessman Jeff Beatty, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan, state Sen. Scott Brown and Chris Egan, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Cooperation and Development.

Vacations in Palm Beach

The patriarch of the clan, Joseph P. Kennedy, bought a Palm Beach estate on North Ocean Boulevard in 1933 for $120,000. When their children were growing up, Joseph and Rose Kennedy spent summers in Hyannis Port and Christmas and Easter holidays in Palm Beach.

The children took swimming lessons at the Bath & Tennis Club and practiced in either their own pool or in the heated pool at neighbor Mary Sanford's house. Every Sunday, the family would fill a pew at St. Edward's on North County Road. After church, the children would troop across the street to Green's Pharmacy for hamburgers and french fries, then home for touch football or tennis on the family's court.

For decades, Palm Beach was for play, but after John F. Kennedy was elected president, it increasingly became a place for work. In 1962, while still an assistant district attorney in Suffolk County, Mass., Ted Kennedy spoke to the 6th Congressional District Young Democrats Club. Ted had just announced his first run for the Senate seat that had been held by his brother.

In 1964, Sen. Kennedy recuperated in Palm Beach from a broken back suffered in a plane crash, just as JFK did in 1954, when he was recovering from spinal surgery to repair damage from his PT boat disaster in World War II.

Throughout the 1960s, there were regular visits to his father, immobilized by a stroke in 1961. Joe Kennedy died in 1969, but Sen. Kennedy kept coming back, for his mother was often in Palm Beach. "He loved his mother profoundly and spent more time with her than any of his siblings did," says Laurence Leamer, the Palm Beach author of The Kennedy Men. "When he was in town, Ted would also spend a lot of time in the bars, and the police would watch over him and drive him home if it was necessary."

In 1991, the Kennedy house became a crime scene as the William Kennedy Smith rape case exploded. Sen. Kennedy had taken his son Patrick and Smith, his nephew, out for a night of drinking that culminated in the alleged rape. Sen. Kennedy had to testify during the trial, which resulted in his nephew's acquittal.

Rose Kennedy died in 1995, and that was the year the family finally sold the house.

Date set for memoir

True Compass, the greatly awaited summation of Sen. Kennedy's life and career, comes out Sept. 14 with an announced first printing of 1.5 million copies. By Wednesday morning, True Compass was in the top 75 on Amazon.com.

Sen. Kennedy collaborated with Ron Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and co-author of Flags of Our Fathers, but "every word" is Sen. Kennedy's, according to his literary representative, Robert Barnett.

Sen. Edward Kennedy

Name: Sen. Edward Moore Kennedy, D-Mass.

Age: 77; born Feb. 22, 1932, in Boston; died Aug. 25, 2009, in Hyannis Port, Mass.

Education: Bachelor's degree, Harvard University, 1956; law degree, University of Virginia Law School, 1959.

Career: First elected to the Senate in a 1962 special election to fill the vacancy left when his brother, John F. Kennedy, became president. Sen. Kennedy was re-elected to six-year terms in 1964, 1970, 1976, 1982, 1988, 1994, 2000 and 2006.

Family: Married to second wife, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, in 1992; children, Curran, Caroline, Kara, Edward Jr., and Patrick. Divorced from his first wife, Joan, in 1982.

Quote: "For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die." — Addressing the 1980 Democratic National Convention.

Long list of potential successors to Kennedy 08/26/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 27, 2009 12:43am]
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