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Teddy Kennedy Jr. is emerging as the clear choice for the Kennedy family to contest the Massachusetts Senate seat vacated by the death of his father — if he wants it — according to IrishCentral sources close to the family.

The powerful family's choice comes amid huge swings of escalating tension over the role of Vicki Kennedy.

"His eulogy at the funeral sealed it — if Teddy wants it, he could win easily" said a close family friend." He has no baggage and could be the second coming of his old man."

Contrary to media reports, there appears to be very little chance that Vicki Kennedy will run for the seat. Family tensions between Vicki and key Kennedy family members escalated during Ted Sr.'s final weeks, with claims that family members did not have enough access to the seriously ill Senator.

The overwhelming focus at the wake  and funeral on Vicki — instead of Teddy's sister, Jean Kennedy Smith, now the only surviving child of Joe and Rose Kennedy — also irked many of the Kennedy clan, some of whom still see Vicki as a recent interloper.

Vicki is apparently well-aware of that tension.

"She meant it when she said she won't run. If she had wanted to, the thing to do was wait a while and see which way the wind was blowing," said a source. It is clear to her the family does not want her to run."

They also believe that if she runs, much of her family's shady past will be used against her -- which means there is little chance she can win the support of  Kennedy family power-brokers — which would be essential for a run even if she wanted it. They point to her father Edmund and brother Ray — both of whom served time for financial fraud, and the families' long ties to jailed Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards. They say there is no question some very awkward questions would be asked — of Vicki and her family connections — if she ran.

"It would get very messy," said a key source.

Likewise, Joe Kennedy is seen as a very flawed candidate. He has been out of politics for over a decade, and has given little indication that it attracts him anymore. He also has close links to Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez through his energy corporation. He and Vicki have also long been at odds, according to family insiders.

The Kennedys very much want to keep the Senate seat. "Remember, this was meant to be Joe Junior's seat originally, then John F. took it, and then Teddy. This is the family business, and they are in no mind to hand it off elsewhere," said a family friend.

That's why Teddy Jr. is coming under increased scrutiny. He runs a successful business called the Marwood Group in New York, which advises corporations on health care issues. He is married to Katherine, a professor in clinical psychiatry at Yale University, and a committed environmentalist.

Unlike many of the other Kennedy clan, he has no hint of personal scandal surrounding him.