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SUNDAY, AUGUST 15, 2010


KLMNO POLITICS THE NATION & Democrats want Kennedy’s widow to run for his seat


But late senator’s family torn over whether a Senate campaign would distract from efforts to promote his legacy His brother, Edward Kennedy


by Mary Ann Akers and Philip Rucker


Nearly one year after Edward


M. Kennedy’s death, prominent Democrats in Washington and Massachusetts are promoting his widow as the party’s best shot at winning back the Senate seat he held for nearly five decades. Though she has seemed to bat down the idea of challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R) in 2012, Victoria Reggie Kennedy has been in some ways acting the part of a candi- date. She has raised her public profile by campaigning for other politicians and appearing at events across the country. The prospect of her candidacy is fast becoming a source of family tension, according to several Ken- nedy intimates. Some relatives fear that a 2012 campaign against Brown — a popular figure even in liberal Massachusetts — would distract Kennedy from promoting her late husband’s legacy, they said.


Vicki Kennedy, a lawyer from a


powerful political family in Loui- siana who married into the Ken- nedy dynasty in 1992, declined to be interviewed for this article. She passed up the chance to run for the seat last year, and some confi- dants said she has told them that she has no plans to run this time. But some party leaders have been quietly promoting her as their preferred candidate. They believe her stature and the good- will she earned after her hus-


band’s death on Aug. 25 put her in a uniquely strong position. Phil Johnston, a former chair- man of the Massachusetts Demo- cratic Party, said he and many oth- ers have urged her to run, and Rep. William Delahunt (D-Mass.) said she would be “a superb can- didate, no question.” “Does she have it? Yeah, she’s


got it in spades,” said Delahunt, a close friend of Kennedy’s. “Any- one would tout her if you’re trying to recruit candidates.” Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-


N.Y.) is among those quietly pro- moting her candidacy, according to several Democratic sources in Massachusetts. Schumer declined to comment. In an interview, Rep. Patrick


Kennedy (D-R.I.), the youngest of Edward Kennedy’s three children, declined to discuss his stepmoth- er’s possible political future. But he said he wished she would focus her energy exclusively on raising money for the Edward M. Ken- nedy Institute for the Senate, a nonprofit organization that aims to inspire future leaders. “As a politician, it’s not as if I


don’t get frustrated by seeing the opportunities missed in the last year for amazing events with this president, this speaker and others who have demonstrated their willingness time and again to honor Dad’s legacy,” said Ken- nedy, who has long had a troubled relationship with his stepmother. “You know the phrase, ‘You make hay while the sun shines?’ This was the year to do it.”


This spring, she quietly lobbied


Jr., has also expressed concern that a campaign would distract her from the institute, people fa- miliar with his thinking said. The sources would discuss the sensi- tive family matter only on condi- tion of anonymity. Jack Connors, the nonprofit’s


finance director, said Vicki Ken- nedy’s political activities are “not at the expense of the institute.” The organization has nearly met


wavering lawmakers to support the health-care overhaul, long a top priority for her husband. She has been tapped, along with for- mer Senate majority leader Tom Daschle, to co-chair a multimil- lion-dollar public relations effort to sell the reform to the American public before the midterm con- gressional elections. Kennedy has co-hosted fund- raisers for Sens. Patty Murray (D-


“I would think it would take a Kennedy to beat [Brown]. Logic would


dictate Vicki would be it.” — Gerry Harrington, consultant and family friend, on the campaign chances of Vicki Kennedy, left


its $120 million fundraising goal, he said. Connors said that the ma- jority of the endowment was raised while Edward Kennedy was still alive and that about half is expected to come from federal funds. “Vicki Kennedy has the best Ro-


lodex and the most energy of our team,” he said.


Making the rounds


In the past year, Vicki Kennedy has given high school and college commencement addresses across the country, accepted awards in Ireland and Washington, spoken at the Massachusetts Democratic convention, and mingled at a din- ner for Senate spouses.


Wash.) and Barbara Boxer (D- Calif.). She traveled to West Vir- ginia in July to eulogize the late senator Robert C. Byrd.


She is endearing herself in par-


ticular to Massachusetts Demo- crats, hosting events for Reps. Barney Frank, James McGovern, Richard Neal and Niki Tsongas. She is headlining a fundraiser for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this fall. And she has appeared at several donor events for Gov. Deval Pat- rick (D), with another dinner planned for him in September. For Vicki Kennedy, the appear- ances are “intoxicating” and “flat- tering,” said one family insider. “It’s an ego trip,” this source add-


Eight people shot after a party in Buffalo


4 dead, 4 wounded following altercation; suspect arrested


by Carolyn Thompson


buffalo — Eight people leav- ing a party at a downtown Buffalo restaurant were shot early Satur- day, four of them fatally, includ- ing a Texas man who had re- turned to his home town to cel- ebrate his first wedding anniversary, police said. Managers had decided to close


the City Grill in Buffalo’s business district after an altercation in- side. The victims were leaving at about 2:30 a.m. when gunfire erupted, police said. “There were verbal things go-


ing on,” Chief of Detectives Den- nis Richards said. “Management apparently chose to close down and have everybody leave the res- taurant.” Later in the day, police charged


a 25-year-old Buffalo resident, Keith Johnson, with four counts of second-degree murder. Police said they think he was the only gunman. They said they did not know whether Johnson was in- volved in the earlier altercation. Many at the restaurant were at- tending a party in advance of a more formal anniversary celebra- tion scheduled for later Saturday, authorities said. The couple, a 30- year-old man and his wife, mar- ried in Texas a year ago and had returned to celebrate with Buffa- lo area friends and family. The wife was not injured. “An occasion that should have been a joyous one, a happy one, turned tragic,” Mayor Byron W. Brown said Saturday near the restaurant, a popular stop for of- fice workers and people attend- ing theater and sporting events. The dead included a 26-year- old man and two women, ages 27 and 32, Richards said. Author- ities did not release the victims’ identities. Ruby Martin said her daughter,


27-year-old Shawntia McNeil, was among those killed. “There’s no words to explain


PHOTOS BY DAVID DUPREY/ASSOCIATED PRESS


Two women survey the scene where eight people were shot early Saturday morning. “Everyone was in a panic,” said a witness who was in the bar area of the restaurant when the shooting began outside.


how I feel,” Martin said. “She got along with everybody. She knows a lot of people. She didn’t deserve to be killed. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intended for her.” Raymond Wilhite said his daughter, Tiffany Wilhite, a cousin of McNeil, was among those killed. “A senseless, random killing,” he said. Authorities say the four wounded were all men. One was in critical condition at a Buffalo hospital Saturday afternoon. Two were in stable condition and one was in good condition. Tommy Dates, 35, of Buffalo, said he was at the bar area of the restaurant with his friends when he noticed a party had broken up. He said people started leaving the restaurant but rushed back in- side a few minutes later. “Everyone was in a panic,” he


said. The restaurant posted a state- ment on its Web site Saturday ex- pressing condolences to the vic- tims and their families. “We at City Grill are deeply saddened by the tragic events,” it said. — Associated Press


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ed, but also predicted that’s where the flirtation will end. In an interview for a Boston Globe Magazine story published online Saturday, Vicki Kennedy said she could not see herself run- ning for her husband’s seat, but did not rule it out. “When you get into that level, of really thinking about really living his life, that’s a step that’s just, just too hard,” she said. Yet among those who had en-


couraged her to run, she told the Globe, was her late husband.


A tough race Retaking the seat held by Ed-


ward Kennedy from 1962 until his death — and previously by his brother, the late president John F. Kennedy — will be a top priority for Democrats in 2012. Brown, who has distanced himself from the GOP on some high-profile is- sues, is now the most popular politician in Massachusetts, ac- cording to a June poll by the Bos- ton Globe. Among those surveyed, 55 percent said they view Brown favorably, while only 18 percent said they view him unfavorably. Gerry Harrington, a Kennedy


family friend and Washington consultant with ties to Boston, said he thinks it will take a “Her- culean effort” to defeat Brown. “I would think it would take a Ken- nedy to beat him,” Harrington said. “Logic would dictate Vicki would be it.”


She is not the only family mem-


ber viewed as a potential candi- date. Former Massachusetts con- gressman Joseph P. Kennedy II, a son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, has considered running for the seat; family friends said he has all but ruled it out, however, in part because of Brown’s popularity and the money required to run a competitive race. The same goes for his son Joseph P. Kennedy III, who is viewed as a political up- and-comer in the family. Bob Crowe, a longtime Demo-


cratic fundraiser in Boston, said he would support Kennedy if she runs. “Not only is she the senator’s widow, but she is a very accom- plished person in her own right,” Crowe said. “She comes from a very astute political family. And she’s loved in Massachusetts.” maryann.akers@washingtonpost.com ruckerp@washpost.com


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A firefighter looks through a broken window at the scene of a multiple fatal shooting outside a restaurant in downtown Buffalo.


DIGEST NEVADA


Searchers find bodies of miners


Searchers have found human remains thought to be those of two missing miners at the bottom of a mine shaft in northern Ne- vada, authorities said Saturday. Rescuers worked for more than 32 hours to safely access the area after a vertical pipe broke from a wall and struck a cage lowering the two men into the shaft early Thursday. The pipe runs the length of the mine shaft,


about 1,300 feet below the sur- face.


Five fatalities have occurred at


the gold mine since it opened in 1994 about 275 miles northeast of Reno.


—Associated Press FLORIDA


Team removes jar stuck on bear’s head


A team of biologists in Florida removed a clear plastic container that had been stuck for 10 days on the head of a black bear cub


affectionately known as “jar- head.” The cub poked its head into the jar when digging through trash in a Central Florida neighbor- hood. Biologists say the cub was days away from death because the jar made it impossible to eat or drink. The team tranquilized the mother bear and grabbed the cub to remove the jar from the bear’s head. After she awoke and nursed her cubs, the bears were moved to a less populated area. —Associated Press


Concerns for stabbing suspect: Police in Michigan said Saturday that they’ll use the time it takes to transfer the suspected “Flint serial killer” to work out logistics and address concerns for his safety. Elias Abuelazam, 33, is a suspect in multiple stabbings — five of them fatal — in Michigan, Ohio and Leesburg. “We have 15 days to get him back,” Michigan State Police Lt. Stephen Sipes said. “There is no hurry at the moment.” Abuelazam waived ex- tradition to Michigan during a Friday court hearing in Atlanta. —Associated Press


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