NORWICH, Conn. (AP) - Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy confirmed Saturday that his Connecticut-based brother, Ted Kennedy Jr., is considering running for the Massachusetts Senate seat that will become vacant if U.S. Sen. John Kerry is confirmed as the next secretary of state.
Patrick Kennedy told The Associated Press that his 51-year-old brother has been receiving calls from their late father's former colleagues and friends, including former Connecticut Gov. Lowell Weicker Jr., urging him to consider running in the anticipated special election.
Patrick Kennedy said he expects his brother could announce a decision before Tuesday, which is Christmas.
While Patrick Kennedy said his brother enjoys living in Branford, he's felt obligated to contemplate running in Massachusetts, where the Kennedy name is revered among many and where their father, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, served 47 years until his death in 2009.
The callers, according to Patrick Kennedy, have told Ted Kennedy Jr. that he "has what it takes to keep that seat in Democratic hands" because of the Kennedy name and "the legacy of my family" but also "because of what they know about my brother."
Messages were left seeking comment from Ted Kennedy Jr., an attorney, advocate for people with disabilities and co-founder of the New York-based Marwood Group, which describes itself as "a health care-focused strategic advisory and financial services firm."
If confirmed by the Senate as expected, Kerry would have to resign the seat he's held for nearly three decades, meaning a special election that would be the third Senate contest in Massachusetts since 2010. The big question is whether Republican Sen. Scott Brown would go for the seat after losing his last month to Democratic Elizabeth Warren. Brown is considered to still be a formidable candidate.
Several Democratic members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation have said they would seriously consider running, including Reps. Michael Capuano, Edward Markey, Stephen Lynch and Niki Tsongas.
Weicker, who recently called Ted Kennedy Jr. and "told him that he'd make a fine U.S. senator" said Kennedy is giving careful thought to the prospect of running.
"I think he still has his own doubts," Weicker said. "Obviously I think it has an allure. It should to anyone. But as somebody that's gung-ho to do it, I don't think you can put him in that category."
Should he decide to run, Weicker doesn't see his friend being painted as an interloper from Connecticut. Ted Kennedy Jr. purchased the Hyannis, Mass., home that once belonged to the late President John F. Kennedy, according to Patrick Kennedy. Patrick Kennedy said his brother would have to switch his state of residency from Connecticut to Massachusetts.
"I don't think any Kennedy's a carpetbagger (in Massachusetts)," Weicker said with a chuckle.
Ted Kennedy Jr.'s name has been floated in Connecticut over the years as a possible candidate for various political offices, but he has declined to run, including this year's race to fill the seat being vacated by the retiring Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent.
He has, however, campaigned on behalf of Democratic politicians from the state, including the successful Senate candidate Chris Murphy and now-U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal. He also campaigned for President Barack Obama in the last election.
Patrick Kennedy, who represented Rhode Island in Congress for 16 years before retiring last year, said he believes his brother is now more inclined to pursue the family business of politics.
"He's certainly got a lot to give. He's spent his life coming to this point, as we all have in our journeys through life," he said. "And I think he's at a point in his life where he's ready to give back through the political life and through elective office, which in our family has always been looked up to."
Massachusetts Gov. Patrick Deval will be required to fill Kerry's seat temporarily with an interim appointment, while setting a day for the special election between 145 days and 160 days after Kerry's resignation