By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) – What’s Joe Kennedy up to?

First, consider the history.

The Kennedys don’t like risky political races. A Kennedy has never lost an election in Massachusetts. Sen. Ted Kennedy, the late patriarch, reportedly knuckled nephew Max Kennedy out of the 2001 special congressional race to fill the late Joe Moakley’s seat. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s 2002 loss in the Maryland governor’s race was the family’s first defeat since Ted’s ill-fated 1980 presidential run. And Ted Kennedy Jr. passed on the 2012 special to succeed John Kerry that was ultimately won by… Ed Markey.

Massachusetts politics is quite the small town, isn’t it?

Another thing about the Kennedys – they treasure their political heft, and while there’s a long history of Kennedys encouraging speculation about what they might run for (Joe Kennedy’s old man was repeatedly rumored to be mulling a run for governor, but never did), they don’t care to be made sport of by floating trial balloons that are easy to deflate.

So here’s an educated guess that the whomping Joe laid on Markey in that poll he acknowledges commissioning was substantial. If so, that result on top of the Ayanna Pressley rout of Mike Capuano last year is informing his musings on, as he puts it in Monday’s Facebook post, “what kind of party Democrats need to be building for the future.”

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (left) and Senator Edward Markey. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)

And it’s not surprising that Joe is unmoved by the “wait your turn” mantra being thrown at him. He could hold back to see if Liz Warren wins, but that would still mean a long wait to challenge Gov. Baker’s interim appointee (unless Beacon Hill Democrats reprise their much-derided shenanigans changing the vacancy law).

Or he could go for it now, surf the wave of generational change, and perhaps find himself in the Senate with his old law professor Warren in the White House, a much higher-profile and politically exciting prospect than limping along as a well-known but one of many members of the Pelosi pack.

Will Joe roll the dice?

Perhaps this Facebook post is no more than a sign that he doesn’t care to be elbowed aside by Markey and company. Or maybe he’s polling again right now to see if all the pushback has cooled his roll.

Kennedys don’t like risk, and they don’t like to lose. The fact that young Joe is out front keeping this fire burning is a sign that he thinks he could win.

Jon Keller


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