After Kennedy died in August 2009, Khazei decided to run in the special election to fill his seat, and he knew he wanted Ward to run his campaign. “One of the things I love about her is her incredible positive energy,” Khazei said. “But she also has an incredible justice nerve. She really wants to change the world and make a difference.”
So Ward moved to Boston for a 100-day sprint to the December primary. The first-time candidate finished third with 13 percent, behind Attorney General Martha Coakley and Rep. Michael E. Capuano, but he earned the Boston Globe’s endorsement.
Ward became a free agent right about the time the 2010 cycle started to spiral out of control for Democrats, and the DCCC hired her for a newly created incumbent retention position. She quickly earned members’ trust and made herself invaluable to their campaign teams.
Even though that cycle was a disaster for Democrats across the board, Ward proved her competence and was promoted to political director for the 2012 cycle. She became close to Chairman Steve Israel of New York and helped the party gain back some of the seats lost in 2010.
While netting 17 seats next year is a priority for Ward, she’s also juggling her role as a mother, in which daily success is measured by whether she can get showered before her daughter wakes up in the morning. She can make it from her house to the nanny share to her office in 12 minutes, because much of her life is contained within the half-dozen blocks between Democratic National Committee headquarters and Nationals Park.
“You have to be organized. You can’t just sit here and linger,” said Ward, who works from her makeshift standing desk and is always armed with a large bottle of water.
“She can balance her life and operate at the top of her game,” said Liston, who is now a media consultant. “To the next generation of women behind her, Kelly shows that it’s all possible.”