Joe Kennedy, grandson of RFK, was elected congressman from the 4th district in Massachusetts on Tuesday night.
Kennedy, 32, had an easy victory over Sean Bielat, winning over 60 per cent of the vote. The seat was formerly held by Barney Frank.
Chants of “Let’s go Joe,” filled the room when the result was announced and the Kennedy name was restored to Congress.
The tradition goes back to 1947 when John F. Kennedy became a congressman but had lapsed since 2011 when Patrick Kennedy, Teddy Kennedy’s son, retired.
“This is an incredible moment for me, and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather share it with than you,” Joseph Kennedy told his backers.
He added, “I’m humbled, I’m grateful and I’m ready to get to work.”
Kennedy is a former Peace Corps volunteer who speaks fluent Spanish and is a former prosecutor. He accepted an Irish Young Leaders award from IrishCentral.com a few weeks back. He raised $4 million to run for office.
“The tug of public service has always been part of the Kennedy life,” said family freind Paul Kirk.
Julian E. Zelizer, professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University, told the Boston Globe that Kennedy’s election is “important for nurturing the legacy” of the Kennedy family.
“And it matters to the Kennedys,” he said. “It’s not just about fame. This is a political family.”
During the campaign, Bielat accused Kennedy of trying to coast to the office on his family name. The attack resonated with some voters, who said they are tired of the state’s famous political dynasty.
“I’m so fed up with the Kennedys,” said August Arns, 78, outside his polling place in Easton, Tuesday.
“They think because their name is Kennedy they should be in office.”
But for others, the Kennedy political brand is still the gold standard. Craig Barger, 64, of Easton, said he voted for Kennedy, “first of all, because he’s a Kennedy.”
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