That mantra sounds something like a Kennedy family creed oft-repeated in recent weeks: "much is expected of those to whom much has been given."

But it is far from clear that a Kennedy will be given the Senate seat in Massachusetts. And there is at least some doubt about how Rhode Island's own succession drama will play out.

There is some money in this race. A key endorsement from a coalition of progressive groups is yet to come. Insiders say a dissident coalition in the House of Representatives is expected to weigh in with hopes of winning a new ally.

The family mantle, it turns out, is a fragile object.

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