Cambridge Democratic leaders said yesterday they are surprised by reports that U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II (D-Mass.) does not plan a 1994 run for governor.
Although recent polls have shown Kennedy to be the strongest potential Democratic candidate in a race against Republican Gov. William F. Weld '66, Kennedy has decided not to run, according to a report in Sunday's Boston Globe.
"I think that Kennedy is a man of tremendous energy, resource and courage," said George Sommaripa, chair of the Cambridge Democratic Party.
Sommaripa characterized Kennedy as "someone who's willing to go out on a limb" when necessary.
He suggested Kennedy might feel he could accomplish more in his congressional position than in the "huge bureaucracy" of the State House.
Though Kennedy could not be reached for comment yesterday, a close friend told the Globe Kennedy decided not to run in part because he felt his congressional role was larger under a Democratic administration. Kennedy became chair of a House banking subcommittee earlier this year.
"Joe sees the banking industry as playing a key role in revitalizing the economy," said James Mahoney, a close friend and former top aide to Kennedy. "He is really fired up about it, and that is what he is aiming at."
Michael Kennedy, the representative's brother, also said Kennedy worried that a campaign could take away from the time he wanted to spend with his twin sons.
"I was somewhat surprised [by Kennedy's decision not to run]," said Vincent L. Dixon '75, former chair of the Cambridge Republican Party.
"[Exchanges between Kennedy and Weld were] starting to look very much like a campaign," Dixon said.
A Globe poll in December showed Kennedy to be Weld's closest potential contender, with 44 percent of the vote to Weld's 45. No other possible candidate came closer than 10 points to Weld.
Cambridge politicians differed by party over Weld's chances of defeat in the 1994 election.
"Kennedy's the only one who looked like a formidable candidate," Dixon said. "There's nobody else who has a strong chance against Weld."
Sommaripa, however, disagreed. "I don't think Weld is that strong," he said. "[He] can be beaten."
Those mentioned as possible Democratic candidates include Boston University president John R. Silber, Boston Mayor Raymond L. Flynn, state Attorney General Scott
Sommaripa suggested that McGovern, who polled 34 percent support to Weld's 45, "would be very good. [She has] a different view and is a different kind of liberal than Dukakis."
Spokespersons for Kennedy and Weld could not be reached for comment yesterday.
This story was complied with wire dispatches.