BOSTON (CBS) – “Are you in or out?” we asked Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Fourth District) about a possible Senate run as he sat down for an exclusive WBZ-TV interview Thursday. “Working through it,” he said. “It’s a big decision, for me, for my family, but there’s also the question of how you’re gonna be received across the state.”
Not everyone has been thrilled by the prospect of Kennedy challenging incumbent Ed Markey for the U.S. Senate seat that’s up next year. A Boston Globe columnist wrote that Kennedy wants to ask voters “that famously resonant Kennedy question. No, no, not ‘what can you do for your country?’ but rather, ‘Do you know who I am?'”
“When I jumped into my first race for Congress I faced those same concerns,” Kennedy told us Thursday. “I think the vast majority of the voters across the Fourth District, whether they support me or not, vote for me or not, would say that’s not the way I’ve run my races, that’s not the way I am…. The only thing I can do is control how I act, how I respond, and hope that people are gonna judge you for that. Anybody that ends up casting a vote in any of the elections past, present or future for me, hoping or expecting that you’re gonna get one of my relatives, you’re not, you’re gonna get me, and it’s up to me to go out there and make that case, and if I get into this race, I will.”
And Kennedy really started sounding like a candidate when pressed to expand on the systemic change he has said he could bring to Washington. In our interview, he endorsed several controversial ideas that have been floated in recent months – abolishing the electoral college system that can and does award the presidency to the popular vote loser, installing term limits on Supreme Court judges, and doing away with the Senate filibuster, a tactic often used to block bills that have majority support.
“The intellectual idea behind the filibuster was that it was supposed to be a moderating force so that you get a deliberative body that acts in a way the majority of the country supports,” said Kennedy. “The Senate can’t agree that today is Thursday or that it’s sunny outside or that the Patriots are the best team in NFL history. We can’t agree on anything. If we can’t update that system to respond to the will of the voters than the system wasn’t any good to begin with and you’re gonna have to challenge it to make it better.”
“The public is supposed to get the government they vote for and they’re not. I understand the whole argument about having a moderated pace for change. Those moderating forces are being used right now to stagnate any sort of updating to our society, [and] that is creating a bigger and bigger rift between where the country wants to go and the government and the structures that we have. That’s the fissure that allowed Donald Trump to win in the first place and that’s what we’ve got to change.”
And while he never mentioned Markey, Kennedy made it clear he sees him as part of the problem, not the solution.
“The fact is our system is not working, you look at our health care system, our immigration system, the fact that our economy is not providing the ability for people to make ends meet, and our political system is supposed to address those and fix them and they’re not. We need to update it, we need to fix it, we need to get to the core of this, and if I get in this race it’ll be on core issues like that.”
Watch a clip from the interview in the video above. You can see the entire interview with Rep. Joe Kennedy this Sunday, Sept. 8 at 8:30 a.m. on WBZ-TV News.