After Ted

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  August 26, 2009

That political dynamic may be why we've heard nothing much about the proposal from Patrick, who had previously expressed interest in adding the appointment power, per Kennedy's wishes. Murray and DeLeo haven't really leapt to the microphones, either.

Instead, the matter has been handed to Brighton rep Michael Moran, the new chair of the Election Law Committee. Moran has said that his committee will look anew at the issue — which, before Kennedy's death, Phoenix sources inside the legislature interpreted to mean that nothing would be happening on it anytime soon.

Now nobody really knows how this change will play out. They may have wanted to stick it in a committee office and just walk away, but that might not be possible after Kennedy's death. Moran, undoubtedly, will be placed center stage.

The clan
Because it's the Kennedys, family intrigue always finds its way into the conversation. Rumors and reporting over the past year have suggested that Vicki Kennedy, Kennedy's wife, wants to inherit the Senate seat. That hasn't sat well with pols who have their own designs on it, including Attorney General Martha Coakley and Congressmen Steve Lynch and Michael Capuano. All three have boosters within the state legislature — most notably Murray, who is widely believed to support Coakley.

In what was seen as an attempt to take Vicki out of the equation, an anonymous "Kennedy family confidant" told the Globe last week that she is not interested in taking the seat, either as an appointee or candidate.

But she has not publicly made that claim herself, which has fueled further speculation. One person who has had a long relationship with the senator tells the Phoenix that, whether Kennedy intended it or not, his succession-plan proposal has heightened speculation that his wife will maneuver to succeed him. She would be the natural, sympathetic choice to cast the deciding vote on the historic health-care-reform legislation her husband held so dear. Once there, she could easily go back on any pledge to not run in the special election— after all, other potential candidates may feel reluctant to campaign against the widow.

Others theorize that Joe Kennedy, Ted's nephew, may jockey for the position. The former Massachusetts congressman has stayed away from elected office for 10 years, but could conceivably come back for his uncle's Senate seat.

The sad truth for the dynastic family is that this may be the last chance for the next generation of Kennedys to produce a US senator.

The 30 grandchildren of Joe and Rose have not exactly been climbing the political ladder at great speed. The only one currently holding elected office is Ted's son Patrick, congressman from Rhode Island, whose personal addictions make his further rise highly doubtful.

There are always rumors of impending candidacies — currently that list includes Ted Jr., purportedly interested in a Connecticut congressional seat. But the family track record is getting worse. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost her race for Maryland governor in 2002; Mark Kennedy Shriver lost his bid for Congress that same year. Robert Kennedy's son Christopher has backed out of a rumored 2010 candidacy in Illinois (either for governor or Senate), and Bobby Shriver has opted out of running for California attorney general.

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