Joe Kennedy III

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    U.S. House of Representatives, Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District

In U.S. politics, there is perhaps no last name that carries the heft of Kennedy, but for better or for worse, Massachusetts congressman Joe Kennedy III is stuck with it. It has certainly helped the former assistant district attorney, son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, and grandson of former Sen. and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy ascend quickly into elected politics. But it also hurts by obfuscating any singularly achieved accomplishment and carrying with it a strong set of assumptions.

For his part, Kennedy is attempting to cut his own way through the ranks of the Democratic Party with a “direct to voter,” Beto O’Rourke style of politicking: a kitchen table, leave-no-stone-unturned mindset that tends to work as a stigma-reducer in red or purple Southern states but isn’t typically seen in solidly blue, coastal areas. The style suits him; he’s a rising star in the party and finishing out his fourth term in Congress. But it hasn’t always been successful: Kennedy recently lost the Democratic Senate primary to longtime incumbent Ed Markey.

Still, at just under 40, Kennedy has options, and top Democratic operatives are already whispering about potential high-level positions in a Joe Biden administration.