Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, confirmed his retirement plans Monday, providing an opportunity to a constituent who has signaled an eagerness in recent years to embrace a family legacy: Ted Kennedy Jr.
“All good things come to an end, and 10 years is just right for me,” Meyer told The Mirror. “And I’m looking at Ted Kennedy Jr., as well, as a successor.”
Meyer said he spoke to Kennedy earlier Monday before announcing he would not seek re-election this fall, and he expects Kennedy to run for the seat representing the 12th Senate District in the part-time Connecticut General Assembly.
Kennedy, 52, a longtime resident of Branford, a community on the Long Island shoreline near New Haven, said he would announce a decision on running in the next two weeks.
“I have been encouraged by many friends and civic leaders to consider running for the 12th Senate District seat. I intend to seriously evaluate this opportunity for public service, and to discuss it with my family, close friends and leaders throughout the district,” Kennedy said. “I will make a final decision within the next two weeks.”
He has resisted suggestions he run for his late father’s U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts in 2009, but Kennedy has long been active collecting favors in Connecticut politics, campaigning for Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy during their U.S. Senate campaigns in 2010 and 2012.
Like his father, Kennedy is a favorite of organized labor. In 2011, he was accorded a raucous reception when he addressed a labor rally in downtown Hartford, but he waved off suggestions he run for an open U.S. Senate seat.
“I look forward one day to being able to go into public service, and I hope that that happens,” Kennedy said then. “I’ll just have to see what opportunities unfold in the future. I know that for the time being, I’m too busy with my work and my family obligations, and that’s the honest truth.”
He made a similar comment in 2012 to The Mirror at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., where he and his wife sat in the convention hall with the Connecticut delegation.
“Hopefully, one day I’ll find a way to serve,” he said. “I love politics. It’s in my blood.”
His wife, Kiki Kennedy, an assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Yale, is an environmental activist. They are the parents of two children, a daughter, who turns 20 this summer, and a 16-year-old son.
“He’s got his feet on the ground,” Meyer said of Kennedy.
Kennedy owns a summer home in Hyannis, Mass. — the house that once belonged to his uncle, President John F. Kennedy — but he has long ties to Connecticut.
He has a bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan, a master’s from Yale and a law degree from the University of Connecticut.
Meyer, who turns 80 next year, credits his start in public service to the Kennedy family: He was appointed as a federal prosecutor in 1964 by Robert F. Kennedy.
His retirement leaves at least four Democratic state Senate seats unprotected by incumbents this fall.
Republicans need to win five Democratic seats to seize control of the Senate for the first time since the 1995 and 1996 sessions, when they enjoyed a 19-17 majority. Democrats now hold a 22-14 advantage.
Meyer joins Andrea Stillman of Waterford, Gary LeBeau of East Hartford and Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn, the Senate’s top leader, among the Democrats not seeking re-election.
LeBeau’s seat is considered safe for Democrats. Rep. Tim Larson, D-East Hartford, a former mayor, is expected to run to succeed LeBeau. The others are more competitive, at least marginally.
Meyer, who was a member of the New York Assembly before moving to Connecticut, unseated a Republican, William Aniskovich, in 2004.
He is the father of Jeffrey Meyer, a former federal prosecutor and law school professor who recently was confirmed as a U.S. District Court judge.