Revered by the political left in deep blue Connecticut, the Kennedy name and mystique doesn’t exactly engender warm and fuzzy feelings among the GOP minority in the state — but there’s an asterisk.
The prospective debut of Ted Kennedy Jr., the eldest son of the late lion of the U.S. Senate, as a candidate for the state Legislature is being embraced by at least one prominent Republican in former Congressman Christopher Shays.
“He’s very capable,” Shays told Hearst Connecticut Media Thursday. “I’ve known a number of the Kennedys in public office, whether it’s Joe Kennedy who I served with in Congress, obviously, Ted Kennedy, Patrick Kennedy…my contact with all of them is they’ve just been very dedicated public servants. It’s an amazing family and a very dedicated family of public servants.”
Kennedy, 53, a Wesleyan and Yale-educated health care lawyer from Branford, is mulling over a run for the Democratic nomination in the 12th Senatorial District.
Since 2002, the district has been represented by Edward Meyer, of Guilford, who is retiring at age 79 and has given his blessing to Kennedy to run. In 1967, Kennedy’s uncle, Robert F. Kennedy, appointed Meyer as a federal prosecutor. The district includes Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford.
Though he isn’t granting interviews on his political plans, Kennedy issued a statement earlier this week saying he is seriously evaluating the opportunity and expects to make a decision on the race within two weeks.
“If he’s running for the (state) Senate, I think the state will find him very capable and very dedicated,” Shays said.
There is a connection between Shays and Kennedy, a cancer survivor whose right leg was amputated when he was 12 years old.
Kennedy’s wife, Katherine “Kiki” Kennedy, is from North Stamford, which Shays represented in the General Assembly at the start of his political career. Her mother, Bettie Gershman, worked on one of Shays’ early campaigns for the Legislature. Kennedy’s wife also helped lead the successful fight against the construction of a liquified natural gas terminal off the coast of Branford in Long Island Sound by Broadwater Energy.
“I have nothing but respect for them,” Shays said of the Kennedys.