By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Patrick Kennedy won’t seek re-election

Here is the advertisement that will be broadcast in Rhode Island on Sunday evening in which U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy announces he won’t seek re-election this fall (via Chris Cillizza).

Ian Donnis of WRNI Radio in Providence has more — including a list of possible Democratic contenders who want to take on Republican candidate John Loughlin. Jon Keller writes that it makes good sense for Kennedy to walk away given his personal problems and the difficulty he would have had getting re-elected.

Finally, last month, former Providence mayor Buddy Cianci told the Providence Journal that he might run for Kennedy’s seat, a federal corruption conviction apparently being no impediment (via @derjue). The spirit of James Michael Curley lives.

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  1. Wow. What a great ad and what a way to get out. Good for him.

  2. BP Myers

    Not sure you’re tongue is pressed firmly in your cheek, Tony, but if not, it’s funny that two people can view the same thing so differently.

    He is a coward, just as much a quitter as Sarah Palin.

    He has no shot at re-election, but is he the happy warrior, going down fighting, championing the causes that are ostensibly so important to him?

    No. He is taking the quitters road.

    Good riddance to someone who was only elected because of his name.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @BP: Patrick Kennedy’s congressional “career” has been a bad joke, but why can’t we accept that he’s just sick of it? He has clearly been lost ever since his father got sick. Yes, he knew there was a good chance he was going to lose, but I doubt that was his main motive in quitting.

  3. BP Myers

    “why can’t we accept that he’s just sick of it?”

    Would you say the same thing of Sarah Palin? Because Patrick Kennedy too has a nice six-figure career waiting for him, as a lobbyist for Big Pharma, or lobbying for some other issue that was so dear to him.

    He ain’t going to Calcutta to work for the Sisters of Mercy, that’s for sure.

    I didn’t quit my job when my father got sick and died.

    Then again, I couldn’t.

    • Dan Kennedy

      Would you say the same thing of Sarah Palin?

      Yes, @BP, and that seems to be exactly what happened with her and the Alaska governorship. As long as I’m not asked to take either her or Patrick Kennedy seriously, what’s the problem?

  4. BP Myers

    “As long as I’m not asked to take either her or Patrick Kennedy seriously, what’s the problem?”

    I tend to take congressmen very seriously indeed. They decide what laws I must live under, and how my tax dollars are spent. I take major party candidates for the Vice Presidential post seriously as well.

    I do wish I could take your same laconic attitude, though.

    Full Dislosure: My grandfather was a revenuer during prohibition, and an honest one at that. No doubt, my view of the Kennedy family is somewhat skewed.

  5. Sasha Golden

    That’s unnecessarily cruel and harsh. It’s NOT quitting — it’s sounds like exhaustion and having the good sense to know when you should take care of yourself.

    There’s a critical difference between someone who has served EIGHTEEN YEARS in Congress and someone who left mid-way through one term as governor of a small state under a cloud of investigation into one’s alleged abuse of office. It also ignores, well, facts — a well-documented history of fighting his own demons plus spending a year watching a parent die.

    Might a fight for reelection been a factor? Perhaps. But given the other well-documented issues in this man’s life, I sincerely doubt that was determinative. And maybe he won the first time because of his name. But then he got RE-ELECTED 8 more times — how is that based solely on a name? And how also, is it explained where Rhode Island has such a heavily Democratic electorate? Can you point to some polling which will support your conclusion?

    So please, focus on the facts and explain to me how this decision is a sign of cowardice. No bomb throwing or invective — try reason. Maybe even try a little compassion.

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Sasha: Yes, good point. In fact, Patrick Kennedy is not quitting at all. He’s simply choosing not to run for re-election.

  6. BP Myers

    “a well-documented history of fighting his own demons”

    We’ve all got our demons. His are no more or less important than mine.

    “plus spending a year watching a parent die.”

    We’re all going to watch our parents die. Sometimes, it takes longer. It did in my case.

    “he got RE-ELECTED 8 more times — how is that based solely on a name?”

    Incumbents are invariably re-elected. That isn’t news.

    The news is that maybe, apparently, and finally!, incumbency this time around will be more curse than blessing.

    “No bomb throwing or invective — try reason.”

    Err . . . I’ve thrown no bombs or invective, and like to think I’ve got a reputation for being reasonable.

    “Maybe even try a little compassion.”

    I was compassionate the first few times he fell off the wagon. But sometimes, an addict is just an addict and there’s nothing you can do for them.

  7. BP Myers

    “In fact, Patrick Kennedy is not quitting at all. He’s simply choosing not to run for re-election.”

    Heh. Howie comes to mind.

    “He’s leaving for health reasons. The voters got sick of him.”

  8. Glen Bergendahl

    I’m glad he’s gone – but it would have been so much sweeter to see him go down in flames in November.

    Memo to Patches: Stay in R.I. There is no room for you in Ma.

  9. Sean Griffin

    It’s not Patrick Kennedy’s job, it’s the “people’s job.”

  10. Sean Griffin

    No doubt, the descendants of revenuers during Prohibition is a voting block to be reckoned with.

  11. BP Myers

    “No doubt, the descendants of revenuers during Prohibition is a voting block to be reckoned with.”

    Heh. Nah, just intrigues me that two Irish Catholic families went down different roads.

    And being Irish Catholic, I DO have lots of brothers and sisters . . .

  12. L.K. Collins


    I was looking forward to the Kennedy vs Cianci race.

  13. I live in Patrick Kennedy’s district. His name obviously helped him get elected and reelected in heavily Catholic Rhode Island. There are a lot of older voters who remember JFK’s election and the pride they felt at having a Catholic in the White House. Despite his problems with substance abuse, he probably could have been reelected forever, or at least until that generation dies off. (You know, after all his family’s been through, yada, yada, yada.)

    But I have to say, I think he also did a very good job with constituent service. The only time I had to contact his office, with a Social Security question, they were extremely prompt and helpful in replying. Sometimes I think it’s your personal contact with the lawmaker that is more important than how they vote on any individual issue.

    Also, the death of a parent is one of the most traumatic experiences you can undergo. I imagine it would have been very difficult for him to return to Congress without his father there.

  14. I was serious. He served a good run and now is getting out. Is it because he might lose his seat? Maybe. But, at the same time, if you’re a Kennedy and you’re not safe in a place like Rhode Island, you should probably not run for re-election …
    And, no, I don’t believe I faulted Sarah Palin for quitting. If I were a governor or any other elected official, and everyone under the sun was after me for the most trivial of legal and ethical pursuits, like what logo my wife wore on a jacket, or something just as ridiculous, I would say “CYa” faster than she did.

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