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.
He also supports bringing U.S. troops back from Afghanistan and Iraq, insisting the country's military should focus on the defense of the nation's borders. He believes the country should even pull troops out of countries that are allies, like Japan and Germany.
On spending and taxation, Kennedy's views would find more sympathy from conservative Republicans.
He would eliminate the federal income tax and dramatically shrink the size of the federal government, doing away with entire bureaucracies including the Department of Education.
Kennedy also would fight to defeat the health care overhaul making its way to President Obama's desk. If it passes, he would immediately work to repeal it.
In the campaign, Kennedy has struggled to be heard. His scant fundraising means he's been unable to air television ads and has had to rely on more traditional shoe leather campaigning.
His highest profile appearances have come during a spate of television and radio debates. Brown had wanted one-on-one debates with Coakley, but she insisted on Kennedy's inclusion.
Kennedy could have another, unintended, effect on the race.
Despite his best efforts to clarify his background, some voters might confuse him with former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy, the nephew of the last Sen. Kennedy.
That could siphon a few votes away from Coakley in a race that appeared to be tightening in the final days before Tuesday's election.
NAME: Joseph L. Kennedy.
EDUCATION: B.A. from Clark University, 1993.
CAREER: Principle consultant, Fidelity Investments, 1995-1998; Head of worldwide Internet technology, Parexel International, 1998-1999; Vice president of information technology at State Street Corp., 1999-present.