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Merrimack Valley

January 17, 2010

Unrelated Kennedy seeks late Sen. Kennedy's seat

BOSTON (AP) — He has the most famous surname in the race to fill the late Edward Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat, but Joseph L. Kennedy isn't a seasoned politician, a Democrat or a member of the famed Kennedy clan.

Instead, he's a 38-year-old information technology executive, a Libertarian and the son of a minister who is praying for the longest of long shots — a chance to fill the office held by that other Kennedy for 47 years.

For Joseph L. Kennedy, the election is also an opportunity to spread the libertarian creed of lower taxes, smaller government and entrepreneurship — and to hold to the fire the feet of the two major party candidates, Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley.

"They're both big government candidates and they don't want to talk about cutting spending," Kennedy said. "If they are not willing to cut, they are part of the problem and not the solution."

Kennedy didn't start out as a die-hard libertarian.

Adopted at age 4 in Boston, Kennedy grew up in Worcester in a family that consisted of his father who is a minister, his mother, an office manager for a local nursing home, and a brother and sister.

Kennedy attended Clark University, studied computer science and launched a career in information technology specializing in insurance and investment companies.

"Right after college I was very much a Democrat, as many college students are," said Kennedy, who is engaged to be married. "But as I've gotten older and I've had to pay more taxes ... I understand the general evils of taxation and large government programs."

Those beliefs grew into a libertarian philosophy that straddles the typical left-right political divide.

Kennedy finds common ground with liberal Democrats on key social issues. He supports gay marriage and access to abortion, believing that government should have little say over people's personal lives.

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