Joseph P. Kennedy III

Joseph P. Kennedy III
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 4th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded by Barney Frank
Personal details
Born Joseph Patrick Kennedy III
(1980-10-04) October 4, 1980
Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Lauren Anne Birchfield
(m. 2012–present)
Children Eleanor "Ellie" Kennedy (b. 2015)
Parents Joseph Patrick Kennedy II
Sheila Brewster Rauch
Alma mater Stanford University
Harvard Law School
Religion Roman Catholicism
Website Congressional website
Campaign website

Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy III (born October 4, 1980) is an American lawyer, politician, and a member of the Kennedy family, serving as the U.S. Representative for Massachusetts's 4th congressional district since 2013. He is a Democrat whose district stretches from the western suburbs of Boston to the state's South Coast. A son of former U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II, he worked as a Peace Corps volunteer and as an assistant district attorney in the Cape and Islands and Middlesex offices before his election to Congress.

Born in Brighton, Massachusetts, Kennedy was raised in the Boston area with his twin brother, Matthew Rauch "Matt" Kennedy. After attending Stanford University he spent two years in the Dominican Republic as a member of the Peace Corps, and earned his law degree at Harvard Law School in 2009. He resigned as a prosecutor in early 2012 to run for the seat held by retiring Congressman Barney Frank. He easily won the Democratic nomination and went on to defeat Republican candidate Sean Bielat. He was sworn into office in January 2013 and sits on the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Early life and career

Kennedy was born October 4, 1980[1] in Brighton, a neighborhood of Boston, to Sheila Brewster (Rauch) and U.S. Representative Joseph Patrick "Joe" Kennedy. He was born eight minutes after his fraternal twin brother, Matthew. He and Matt are the eldest grandsons of Senator Robert Francis "Bobby" Kennedy and Ethel Skakel.[2][3] Kennedy was raised in Brighton and in the coastal town of Marshfield, also spending summers on Cape Cod.[4] From birth, Kennedy was engulfed in politics; in 1980, his parents were working on the presidential campaign of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, the boys' great-uncle. Kennedy's father was elected to Congress in 1986. The pressures of political life strained Joseph and Sheila's marriage, and they divorced in 1991. The twins spent the following years moving between Brighton and Cambridge.[3]

Kennedy (l) in the Dominican Republic as part of the Peace Corps

After graduating from the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Kennedy along with his brother enrolled in Stanford University, where he majored in management science and engineering. Kennedy's reputation as a teetotaler earned him the college nickname "Milkman", as his teammates on the club lacrosse team would jocularly order him glasses of milk at bars.[3][5] While at Stanford, Kennedy roomed with future NBA player Jason Collins.[6]

After graduating in 2003, Kennedy joined the Peace Corps; a fluent speaker of Spanish, he worked in the Puerto Plata province of the Dominican Republic from 2004 to 2006, helping local tour guides in the 27 Charcos reserve in the Río Damajagua Park. He reorganized the group with some outside backing, directing the guides to rebuild parts of the park and develop skills to make the operation more attractive to tourists.[3][5] "We basically created a union," said Kennedy, who reported that the group's efforts won higher wages for employees while improving revenue for the tour companies.[7] According to a press release, his other activities in the Peace Corps included "stints as an Anti-Poverty Consultant for the Office of the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste and a Research Analyst for the United Nations Development Program."[8]

Entry into law and politics

Kennedy speaking at the 50th Anniversary of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium (2011)

In April 2006, Kennedy returned to Massachusetts, where he and his brother co-chaired Ted Kennedy's re-election campaign. That fall, Kennedy enrolled in Harvard Law School.[3] While in school, Kennedy worked for the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, providing legal aid to low-income tenants with foreclosure cases in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. Kennedy worked as a technical editor for the Harvard Human Rights Journal, on a staff with his classmate and future wife, Lauren Anne Birchfield.[3] In 2007 he and Birchfield co-founded Picture This: Justice and Power, an after-school program for youths in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.[9][10] He began an internship at the Cape and Islands District Attorney's Office in 2008.[8]

After graduating from Harvard in 2009, Kennedy was hired at the Cape and Islands Office as an assistant district attorney (DA). He considered running for the Cape-based U.S. House seat held by retiring Rep. Bill Delahunt in early 2010, but decided against it.[11] In September 2011, he joined the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office, also as an assistant DA.[12] He resigned several months later, in preparation for the announcement that he would seek political office.[13]

U.S. House of Representatives

Election 2012

In January 2012, Kennedy announced he would form an exploratory committee to run in the newly redrawn 4th congressional district. Congressman Barney Frank, who had previously represented the district, had announced his retirement, leaving an open field for the seat.[13][14] Kennedy explained, "I will then begin to reach out to the people of the Fourth District in order to hear directly from them about the challenges they are facing and their ideas on how we can restore fairness to our system. I will make a final decision about entering the race in the weeks thereafter."[15][16]

Kennedy (l–r) campaigning with Elizabeth Warren and his predecessor Barney Frank in 2012

Kennedy officially entered the election in February 2012.[17] In an announcement video, Kennedy declared, "I believe this country was founded on a simple idea: that every person deserves to be treated fairly, by each other and by their government".[18] In the same video, Kennedy vowed to fight for a "fair job plan", a "better educational system", a "fair tax code" and a "fair housing policy".[18]

While several Democratic candidates had prepared to enter the race, the field nearly cleared once Kennedy announced his candidacy. His family roots made him the overwhelming favorite among Massachusetts Democrats.[19][20] In the September 6 primary, he faced Rachel Brown, a Lyndon LaRouche acolyte; and Herb Robinson, an engineer and musician, winning the primary with 90 percent of the vote.[21][22]

In the general election campaign he faced Republican nominee Sean Bielat, a technology executive and member of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. Bielat had run an unsuccessful campaign against Barney Frank in the 2010 election for the 4th district seat.[23] In a series of debates, Bielat challenged Kennedy's qualifications for Congress, saying that the Democrat's campaign was coasting on name recognition rather than experience, and that he would be a party-line vote. Kennedy tried to tie Bielat to the budget platform of U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, although Bielat responded that he only supported parts of the plan.[24][25] Kennedy raised over $4 million in support of his campaign, far exceeding Bielat's draw of around $900,000.[23] Kennedy won the November 6 election with 61 percent of the vote to Bielat's 36 percent.[26]

Election 2014

In the 2014 election Joseph P. Kennedy III ran unopposed in the primary election and in the general election. On November 4, 2014, Kennedy was re-elected, winning a second term with 184,158 votes or 97.91%.[27]

Election 2016

In 2016, after running unopposed in the Democratic primary, Kennedy was re-elected to a third term, defeating Republican David Rosa by a margin of more than forty percentage points. [28]


Committee assignments
114th Congress (2015–17)[29]

Kennedy was sworn into the 113th U.S. Congress on January 3, 2013, and was assigned to the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Science, Space and Technology. He praised the technology committee assignment as an opportunity to secure federal funding, including National Science Foundation and Small Business Innovation Research grants, for life sciences companies in his district. As a freshman in his party, he was unable to secure a seat on the Education Committee which he had sought.[30]

During a February science committee hearing, he questioned Texas Instruments president Richard Templeton regarding the company's efforts to compensate cancer-stricken former employees of its Attleboro, Massachusetts, nuclear facility.[31][32] A prolific fundraiser, he launched his political action committee, the 4MA PAC, in April.[33][34] As a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, he traveled in May with four other legislators to Afghanistan, where they met with President Hamid Karzai and members of the military.[35] That month he was named chairman of Governor Deval Patrick's STEM Advisory Council.[36]

On July 24, 2013, Kennedy was one of seven members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) who voted against the Amash-Conyers amendment to limit Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which tried to restrict NSA surveillance programs. In contrast, a majority of both CPC members and of Democratic members of Congress voted for the amendment, while Kennedy stood out as a supporter of the party leadership. His vote has been criticized as a sign for a lack of commitment to civil liberties.[37]

Personal life

Kennedy married health policy lawyer[38] Lauren Anne Birchfield (born September 21, 1984)[39] in Corona del Mar, California, on December 1, 2012.[40] The couple met in a Harvard Law School class taught by future senator Elizabeth Warren.[41] Kennedy is a practicing Roman Catholic.[29] Kennedy's net worth is estimated to be between $15 and $55 million.[42] On December 29, 2015, Birchfield gave birth to their daughter, Eleanor "Ellie" Kennedy. Kennedy's child is the fourth of the "sixth-generation" of Kennedys. Kennedy posted on Twitter saying "Lauren and I are happy to announce that our daughter Eleanor (Ellie) arrived today! Grateful for love and support!"[43]

See also


  1. "Kennedy, Joseph P. III". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
  2. Edith Zimmerman (September 12, 2012). "Keeping Up With the Kennedys". The New York Times.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Jacobs, Sally (March 17, 2012). "For the Kennedy clan, he is Generation Next". The Boston Globe.
  4. Vosk, Stephanie (February 28, 2010). "Not your average Joe (Kennedy)". Cape Cod Times.
  5. 1 2 "Massachusetts, 4th House District". National Journal. November 6, 2012.
  6. "Why NBA center Jason Collins is coming out now". Sports Illustrated. April 29, 2013.
  7. Pollock, Alan (May 7, 2009). "Joseph P. Kennedy III Urges Young People To Act Locally, And Globally". The Cape Cod Chronicle.
  8. 1 2 "Kennedy Joins Middlesex District Attorney's Office". Office of the Middlesex District Attorney. August 24, 2011.
  9. "Joseph Kennedy III joins Middlesex DA's Office". The MetroWest Daily News. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on April 12, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013.
  10. Newburger, Emily (2012). "The Next Generation". Alumni Pursuits. Harvard Law School.
  11. Vosk, Stephanie (March 1, 2010). "Joseph Kennedy III says he won't seek seat". Cape Cod Times.
  12. Jessica Venezia Pastore & Stephanie Chelf Guyotte (August 24, 2011). "Middlesex District Attorney". Retrieved January 28, 2012.
  13. 1 2 Walker, Adrian (January 5, 2012). "Joseph P. Kennedy III, Family Scion, Explores Run for Barney Frank's House Seat". Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  14. Clift, Eleanor (February 17, 2012). "Joe Kennedy III Takes the Torch from Retiring Barney Frank". The Daily Beast. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  15. "Joe Kennedy III Exploring Campaign Run". The Boston Channel. January 5, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  16. Miga, Andrew (January 5, 2012). "Joseph Kennedy III Takes Steps Toward A Run For Congress". The Huffington Post. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  17. LeBlanc, Steve (February 15, 2012). "Joseph Kennedy III Announcing Mass. Congress Bid". Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  18. 1 2 joekennedy2012 (February 15, 2012). "I'm Running". YouTube. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  19. Miller, Joshua (January 24, 2012). "4th District Field Clears for Joseph Kennedy III in Massachusetts". Roll Call. CQ.
  20. "2012 Primary Endorsement: 4th Congressional District: Joe Kennedy III for Democrats". The Boston Globe. September 2, 2012.
  21. Levenson, Michael (September 7, 2012). "Bielat, Kennedy to vie for open House seat". The Boston Globe.
  22. "U.S. House - 4th District - 2012 Primary Results - Massachusetts". The Boston Globe. September 6, 2012.
  23. 1 2 Arsenault, Mark (November 9, 2012). "Kennedy takes Fourth District congressional seat in decisive win over Bielat". The Boston Globe.
  24. Stout, Matt (October 11, 2012). "Joe Kennedy III, Sean Bielat trade jabs". The Boston Herald.
  25. Bever, Fred (October 16, 2012). "Bielat, Kennedy Meet In Final 4th District Debate". WBUR News.
  26. "Races and Results: U.S. House (Massachusetts)". CNN Election Center. 2012.
  27. "House election results". Real Clear Politics. Retrieved 2014-11-04.
  28. "Massachusetts 4th District Results". New York Times. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  29. 1 2 "Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass)". Roll Call. CQ.
  30. Jan, Tracy (January 5, 2013). "Kennedy named to two House committees". The Boston Globe.
  31. Nichols, Christopher (February 6, 2013). "Kennedy grills Texas Instruments president". Taunton Gazette.
  32. Foster, Rick (February 6, 2013). "Kennedy questions TI president about cancer cases". The Sun Chronicle.
  33. Tracy, Jan (April 17, 2013). "Tierney tops state delegation in first quarter fundraising". The Boston Globe.
  34. Blake, Aaron (April 12, 2013). "Rep. Joe Kennedy III launches political action committee". Post Politics (The Washington Post).
  35. Bender, Bryan (May 28, 2013). "Kennedy impressed by US efforts to prepare Afghans". The Boston Globe.
  36. Massachusetts Governor's Office (May 29, 2013). "Lieutenant Governor Murray announces Congressman Kennedy to lead the governor's STEM Advisory Council".
  37. In These Times (July 26, 2013). "Why Did 83 Democrats Vote to Continue NSA Surveillance?".
  40. Scott Stump (December 3, 2012). "Congressman-elect Joe Kennedy III is married". MSNBC.
  41. Ted Nesi (January 3, 2012). "Joe Kennedy III met his wife in Warren's Harvard Law class". WPRI-TV. Retrieved January 7, 2013.

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Barney Frank
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Massachusetts's 4th congressional district

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
David Joyce
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Dan Kildee
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