Ted Kennedy Jr., Patrick Kennedy's brother, and other family members say that Patrick is not ruling out another run for office – possibly even for his father's seat in 2012.

Kennedy Jr. made clear that the door is still open. Patrick Kennedy's mother lives in Boston and he has maintained a place at the family compound at Hyannis Port.

“I know he’s said he’s not ruling out a run for office again at some point in the future,” Ted Jr. told the Boston Herald. “I think my father’s death had a profound impact on him. It made him re-evaluate his life in many ways. Politics isn’t easy."

“I think it’s the right thing for Patrick. It’s something he’s been thinking about for a long time. He’s been in politics for 20 years.”

The Kennedy family is furious that their father's seat was won by a Republican, Scott Brown, which also ended Teddy Kennedy's dream of passing health care reform. Family members are said to be assessing who will run for the seat in 2012.

Meanwhile friends of Kennedy say the decision to step out now, at least for a time, is understandable. “I think there’s a big void in his life. He was very, very close to his father, and now that he’s gone, he’s reassessing what he wants to do,” Jim Brett, a local politician told The Herald.

“He spent most of the time talking about how he valued the opportunity to sit with his father on the porch and what a gift that was. It’s taken a lot out of him. They were teammates down there (in Washington).”

“The joy may not be there to legislate as it once was,” Brett added. “He has a distinguished career. He’s leaving on top.”

One congressional staffer said the death of Ted Kennedy had deeply affected Patrick. “He’s a tortured guy,” the staffer said. “His old man’s death compounded all his problems.”

Meanwhile Patrick Kennedy described his surprise announcement as “a load off my shoulders.”

“I’ll have a private life and a personal life that heretofore I really haven’t experienced. I am looking forward to it,” he told the Associated Press yesterday.

Patrick Kennedy