July 26, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Barney Being Barney Gives Nod to Joe Kennedy

Photo Courtesy Massachusetts Teachers Association
From left: Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, 4th district candidate Joe Kennedy III and retiring Rep. Barney Frank attend the Massachusetts Teachers Association’s annual delegate meeting.

He’ll be on the ballot in November in the Democratic-leaning district facing off against either Sean Bielat, the 2010 GOP nominee for the district, or psychiatrist Elizabeth Childs, who served in former Gov. Mitt Romney’s (R) administration.

Bielat, a former Marine and businessman, has the edge because he has the support of many activists across the district. But he lost to Frank in the GOP wave year of 2010 by 11 points and will probably lose by more this cycle. Republicans hope to emphasize that Bielat, married with children, is someone who can understand the everyday concerns of voters better than his opponent.

But Kennedy, just by virtue of his last name and his charisma, probably has already won that battle.

“We certainly feel confident” in this race, one Democratic insider said. “Kennedy is getting a ton of support and it’s not just money.”

Democratic consultants in the state have been impressed with how hard Kennedy has been working, the fact that he doesn’t seem to be taking anything for granted and how many events he shows up at.

Kennedy later spoke to the MTA, hitting all the right notes. He talked about the importance of education and his time as a teacher in the Peace Corps. He didn’t have the polish or public speaking skills of a longtime pol, but the audience embraced him warmly.

“With all my heart and soul, I will defend public education,” he said to applause.

As Kennedy speed-walked out of the ballroom on his way to a packed day of events, he was mobbed like a Hollywood celebrity, with people clamoring to shake his hand. The president of the Newton Teachers Association — one of the largest cities in the 4th district — pledged his support to Kennedy.

“I shook your dad’s hand the day he was sworn in,” one woman said, smiling as she grasped the younger Kennedy’s palm.

“Good luck, Joe!” another woman yelled out in a thick Boston accent.

“The best part about all of this is the people you get to meet,” Kennedy said earnestly in a short interview. “We are having fun.”

Asked after his speech if he enjoyed doing events like this, Frank growled: “No.”

“But,” he conceded, heading for the door, “they’re important.”

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