Joe Kennedy Starts Re-Election Bid, Receives District Reps' Endorsements

Freshman Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, after picking up endorsements from 16 Democratic state representatives Monday, preferred discussing his 1988 re-election campaign to a possible gubernatorial bid in 1990.

"The fact is, you can't really get by the notion that there is an election between now and 1990," the son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy '48 quipped at his State House news conference Monday.

The 1988 elections, the Eighth District congressman said, "are very important [and] have tremendous implications for what the future of this state's going to be."

So, he said, Democratic lawmakers, including himself, "should be concentrating on making certain that we do a good job in terms of serving the people that elected us and then, beyond that, doing our very best to make certain that Mike Dukakis becomes the next president of the United States."

But if Dukakis is elected president, reporters asked, will Kennedy run for governor in 1990?


"Those events...are just too many to determine what's going to be going on in this state two or three years from now," Kennedy responded. "I just think it's just too far. It's speculation that I don't think does anybody any good. And it doesn't do the state any good."

Kennedy, 35, is scheduled to make a formal announcement of his bid on May 21. He succeeded former House Speaker Thomas P. "Tip" O'Neill in 1986, surviving an 11-candidate primary battle for the seat and then handily defeating Republican Clark C. Abt by better than two-to-one in the general election.

The Eighth District seat, also held by his late uncle, John F. Kennedy '40, represents Cambridge, Somerville, Waltham, Arlington, Belmont, Charlestown and parts of Boston.

His opposition hasn't been firmly decided for this year since initial filing deadlines are not until Tuesday. But Democrat Jack McKay, Independent Robert Alexander and Republican Glenn Fiscus have all taken out nomination papers for the race.

Fiscus says he is readying his campaign machinery for a run against the incumbent Kennedy. "We're putting together our campaign," Fiscus said. "Down the road, we'll have a campaign strategy."

But the Republican exercised unusual discretion in revealing details of his campaign. "Macy's doesn't tell what Gimbels what it's doing," Fiscus said yesterday.

Fiscus did give one hint: "I'll refuse to debate him," he said.

Kennedy takes a sizeable advantage into the primary with Monday's endorsement by all of the Eighth Congressional District's state representatives, including House Majority Leader Charles Flaherty of Cambridge and House Assistant Majority Whin Mary Jane Gibson of Belmont.

"Although this is a diverse group and there are not a lot of things we agree on among ourselves in any given legislative year," Flaherty said, "we all unanimously agree that Congressman Kennedy has done an absolutely outstanding job...and is very much deserving of re-election."

Flaherty, laughing, said the delegation was not prepared to extend its endorsement to a Kennedy bid for governor in 1990. The delegation would want to wait and see what the Speaker of the House would have to say, said Flaherty, who reportedly aspires to that position. "Wouldn't we, guys?" he said, looking to the other lawmakers.