At age 52, Ted Kennedy Jr. is set to begin his career as a candidate seeking a seat in the Senate at 6 p.m. Tuesday at a library. It’s not the JFK Library in Boston, and the seat he is seeking would send him to Hartford, not Washington.
Kennedy, whose eulogy of his father in 2009 provoked speculation that the senator’s oldest son might be ready to seek office in Massachusetts, will make his debut as a candidate at the James Blackstone Memorial Library Auditorium in Branford, his adopted hometown on the Connecticut shore.
He has told associates he is seeking the 12th Senate District seat held by the 79-year-old Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, who promoted Kennedy’s candidacy last month as he announced his intention to retire. John Murphy, who worked on Meyer’s first campaign, is helping Kennedy.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a first-term Democrat seeking re-election this fall, was among those who encouraged Kennedy to run in a district that was seen as safely Republican until Meyer’s upset win a decade ago over Republican state Sen. William Aniskovich.
Kennedy, who has degrees from Wesleyan, Yale and the University of Connecticut, has established a life outside the political limelight in Branford, where he and his wife, Kiki, a Yale psychiatrist, raised their two children, a 16-year-old son and 19-year-old daughter.
But Kennedy has played supporting political roles in Connecticut in recent years, campaigning for Democrats Richard Blumenthal in 2010 and Chris Murphy in 2012 as they sought and won open seats in the U.S. Senate. He has longtime friends in organized labor, including John Olsen, the former state AFL-CIO president.
His announcement is certain to get more attention than any other first-time candidate for the General Assembly. Its 6 p.m. start is all but an invitation for live television coverage.
The district covers the three shoreline towns of Branford, Guilford and Madison, plus North Branford, Killingworth and the eastern half of Durham.
The 12th is one of four Senate seats held by Democrats not seeking re-election this fall. Three of them, the 12th included, are considered to be at least somewhat competitive for the GOP.
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 had a 19-17 majority. Democrats now hold a 22-14 advantage.
Disclosure: Kennedy and his wife have contributed to the nonprofit Connecticut News Project, the owner of The Mirror.