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Vicki Reggie Kennedy: lawyer, widow, next U.S. senator from Massachusetts?

Vicki Kennedy blows farewell kiss to her husband Ted Kennedy at his funeral Aug. 29, 2009

Time Magazine has called her “The Woman Who Saved Ted.”

Now, though she has said she is not interested, pressure is mounting on Victoria Reggie Kennedy to save his agenda -- serving as interim senator from Massachusetts until January when a special election is planned to fill the seat held by her husband, the late Edward Kennedy.

 Connecticut Democrat Chris Dodd, one of Kennedy’s closest friends in the Senate, said on Sunday that "whatever Vicki wants to do, I'm in her corner. She brings talent and ability to it, and to fill that spot I think is something the people of Massachusetts would welcome. We could certainly use her in the Senate."

The marriage of Ted Kennedy and Vicki Reggie in 1992 was a union of two political dynasties, the Irish Catholic Kennedys and the Lebanese Catholic Reggies.

Vicki’s family hailed from Crowley, La., where her father, Edmund, was a longtime judge, banker and political insider and her mother, Doris, was a former Democratic National committeewoman – and the only member of the Louisiana delegation to cast a vote for Teddy Kennedy at the 1980 convention.

Many credit Vicki with steadying Ted Kennedy politically and personally and more recently, with organizing his treatment for brain cancer. “It was as if the good Lord had sent her,” former Sen. John Warner, a close friend of Kennedy’s, told

Less known is that she was also a political confidant – critical in his 1994 reelection against a 47-year-old multimillionaire named Mitt Romney. Ted Kennedy was facing a well-funded, viable opponent. Things looked grim.

Vicki Kennedy, a corporate lawyer, was suspicious of Romney's claims that he had created a lot of jobs as a venture capitalist and urged the campaign to investigate the more likely outcome in takeovers: mass layoffs. The resulting ads turned the race around.

In his last days, Ted Kennedy urged the Massachusetts Legislature to change the state’s law so that a caretaker senator could serve in Washington, a Democrat who could help President Obama enact healthcare reform. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has signaled his support for the idea, and the Democratic-majority legislature shows every sign of going along too.

As for Mrs. Kennedy, she has eschewed the political spotlight – until now, when political insiders such as Utah's Orrin Hatch are urging her to reconsider.

"I think Vicki ought to be considered,” Hatch said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “She’s a very brilliant lawyer. She’s a very solid individual. She certainly made a difference in Ted’s life, let me tell you. And I have nothing but great respect for her.”

 If she does serve, Vicki Reggie Kennedy might bring a needed sense of irony to the job.

 In recalling her courtship with Ted Kennedy, who was 22 years her senior, Vicki Kennedy told biographer Adam Clymer that the senator mentioned his low approval ratings – then in the mid-40s -- over dinner one night. Her reply: “Oh, wow, I’ve never gone out with anybody whose approval rating wasn’t at least 48.”

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: Reuters

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Comments () | Archives (12)

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The Dems are hypocrites for suggesting an interim appointment-- something they previously opposed on principle. We live in a Democracy, not a "Nepotocracy". Nepotism should be strongly condemned by the voting public.

Perhaps the people of Massachusetts don't want to be representated by a Kennedy anymore -- maybe we should ask them via one of those things called an "election."

Mass. Dems(pushed by Kennedy) changed the law to NOT allow a Republican Governor to select a Senator when the "I was in Vietnam" Kerry might of won the presidency (HA!) Dems want to change the law a 2nd time, to only benefit them again!? Why not just change to the law to specify only Dems can select senators - they can't seem to elect them properly... Give the people a say, proceed with an election and stop these handing of seats to the "Chosen" ones...

Watching George W. Bush at the funeral of Teddy Kennedy on Saturday was, to say the very least, amusing. It's always great fun to witness the members of the vast right wing conspiracy confronted head-on with the theological flaws that are inherent in their philosophy. Watching that event with my pal, Kevin Swanwick, we both were mesmerized and just slightly overjoyed to be reminded yet again that the basic tenets of Liberalism are in perfect harmony with our Christianity - our Catholicism: feed the hungry, shelter the poor and clothe the naked. Oh, how I wish the camera would have cut to Bush's face the moment he was confronted with the most famous line (and justly so) from the Gospel according to Matthew:

"I tell you this: whatever you did to the least of these brothers of mine, you did to me."

Jesus of Nazareth

One can only imagine how uncomfortable that passage from the scriptures must have made him feel. Or how about the Sermon on the Mount?

"Blessed are the peace makers
For they shall be called Sons of God."

I imagine being confronted with the words of Jesus Christ might make old George just a tad uneasy. The prayers that were offered up by the youngest members of the Kennedy clan, in Teddy's own words, were the most touching part of the entire day:

"That human beings be measured not by what they cannot do. That quality health care becomes a fundamental right and not a privilege. That old policies of race and gender die away. That newcomers be accepted, no matter their color or place of birth. That the nation stand united against violence, hate and war. That the work begins anew, and the dream lives on. We pray to the Lord."

Lord hear our prayer.

After the mass had ended, and Kevin and I headed into town to get a cup of coffee, I was almost stunned by the good cheer I felt. Ted Kennedy's funeral was truly a joyous event. Truth be told, it was damned-near therapeutic! The politics of joy as opposed to the politics of fear. There ain't nothin' like it in the world, Baby!

The stark contrasts between the ideals of the Progressive movement and the right wing's backwards and greedy ideology were out in public Saturday for all to compare and contrast at Our Lady of Perpetual Comfort Church in Boston. The differences were so obvious, you could not have missed them had you tried.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

As we pause and reflect on the life of Senator Kennedy, its clear the Democrats need to work as hard as possible to make passage of healthcare reform possible.

For all the hard work, passion and commitment the late Senator placed on this, it would be wonderful to see its passage, eventually. Sooner, rather than later. If Vicki, who surely is in mourning feels she can make a difference, I hope she steps in to keep this legisation moving forward. But whatever she does is 'appropriate.' But her filling that seat, would be a great plus to her husband and party.

If the seat is not offered to he then she surely has enough money to buy the seat!

Could or might not be the correct choice. The republican side hopes the delay is
long enough to turn things around and stop them for another century. The irony of their opponents is torture isn't frowned on by them even at the end of life itself. Goodbye to Ted Kennedy and a State that forgot time itself while he was in office. Not much more to write about on this one except that the last young Kennedy to maybe go for office was stopped by an something rare in New York State; a relatively honest and clean political governor and if that changes, who knows what will happen.

You mean I'm not the only one that thought this is a great idea.
It would be very fitting for her to fill in for Sen. Kennedy. Then
return to Louisana and help us out with all the bad politics here.
Elease, Baton Rouge, LA

I support Joe Kennedy for the Senate. He has already demonstrated his ability to serve the poor and to continue the legacy left by his father, Robbert and Uncles John and Edward. I have nothing against Vicky, but she has time to mourn and recover and perhaps to run in her own right as a candidate at an appropriate time and place. Francis

NO,NO,NO! What has this woman done? She has stayed 3 steps behind Teddy for ?17 years, done not one thing! A waste of an education, taken up space of someone who wanted practise law and/or need to support themselves or family. Her Father and Teddy arranged this marriage and it seems, the entire country has taken the bite.

I certainly believe Vicki or Carolyn Kennedy should fill Ted's seat as they both have the same view's Ted had.I have been a Kennedy supporter every since John Kennedy ran for President (the first year I was able to vote),because they had money & fame they did not need it,they truly wantted to help the poor & the elderly. Darlene Barbolla.River Oaks,Tx.

Simply amazing.

Surely the people of Mass. want another Kennedy speaking for them...don't they?

I guess we could go through that whole nasty election process...but what would that prove? Those people should just shut up and let us (progressives) tell them what to do. Be good little serfs and maybe one day you'll be rewarded (unless you're male...and white...and not a Kennedy).

One of the reasons this country is on the down fall today is because there are too many democrats holding office who don't work for the american people, they fill their own pockets with tax payers money and make the poor lazy with giveaways. Vickie Kennedy is not the one I would want to see as senator. Would she work for the people of Massachusett or would she just represent what Ted Kennedy wanted. Most of those democratic cheats and tax evaders should be thrown out of office. ENOUGH!!


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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