Amy Kennedy could become the first Camelot wife to win elected office, as she headed into Wednesday morning ahead in her bid for the Democratic nomination in a southern New Jersey House district.
Kennedy, 45, announced she was contesting her southern New Jersey congressional district in January after Democratic freshman incumbent Rep. Jeff Van Drew switched parties last year over President Trump’s impeachment.
Kennedy was endorsed by Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy over political science professor Brigid Callahan Harrison in their five-way primary for the right to challenge the Republican nominee in November. She was also backed by a slew of public employee unions and progressive groups.
Kennedy was leading with 54.7% of the vote after 30% of precincts had reported, with Harrison receiving 31.8%, according to the Associated Press.
Despite her opponent’s celebrity status, Harrison ran with the help of New Jersey’s two U.S. senators and the state Democratic Party machine. Her allies were New Jersey party boss George Norcross and state Senate President Steven Sweeney, Murphy’s political rivals. Some establishment figures were worried the party’s power would be diluted after New Jersey sent every registered voter a ballot amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s the state’s first major test of mail-in voting before the general election.
Kennedy, once an eighth-grade history teacher, is married to former Democratic Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy’s nephew. Patrick Kennedy represented Rhode Island from 1995 to 2011. He quit after his father’s death and a series of public drug- and alcohol-related episodes. The couple have four children, plus another from Amy’s previous marriage. They work on mental health and addiction issues together through the Kennedy Forum.
New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District, which covers Atlantic City in the state’s east and stretches west to its Pennsylvania state line, leans Republican, setting up a highly competitive race in the fall. The district supported Trump in 2016, yet voted for former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush in previous cycles.
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