Posted in USA Today blog:
Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley, winners in Tuesday's Massachusetts primaries, will have some unexpected company as they campaign for the Jan. 19 special election to fill the Senate seat that was occupied by a Kennedy family member or friend for 56 years.
(John Kennedy, served from January 1953 until December 1960, when he resigned to become the nation's 35th president; at which point Benjamin Smith stepped in to fill the gap until the president's kid brother, Edward Kennedy, reached the constitutional age of 30. Elected in November 1962, the younger Kennedy would remain in the post for 47 years until his death in August. It is now held, on an interim basis, by former Edward Kennedy aide, Paul Kirk.)
Days after the senator's death, his nephew, former Rep. Joseph Kennedy, D-Mass., put an end to speculation that he'd take up the political dynasty's torch.
But another Joe Kennedy has entered the race. He's 38 years old, an information technology executive, and no kin to the famous family. Monday, he gave the Massachusetts secretary of state 13,000 signatures on petitions to get his name on the ballot next month as an independent. Kennedy told USA TODAY he used a combination of paid petition-circulators and volunteers to collect the signatures. "I have some money of my own," he said when asked how he financed the operation.
A libertarian, Joe "No Relation" Kennedy says he entered the race because he believes "the people need a choice." He says there's really no difference between the Republican and Democratic parties anymore. "Both are pro-war; both are pro-deficit; both pull our civil liberties away from us in different ways," he says.
He says he doesn't think his name represents a huge political advantage. "I think the average voter within Massachusetts is savvy enough to understand who I am and who I am not," Kennedy says. You can see him describing a little bit about his background below. More videos are on his website: