Oprah. Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. Dwayne Johnson, “The Rock.” Now comes Congressman Joe Kennedy III as the latest name floated as the potential Democratic nominee for 2020.
Kennedy III denies he’ll run (though he’s clearly looking towards a future bid for a Massachusetts senate seat) but the media loves the idea. Politico had a story today suggesting that while he probably won’t be a candidate, he “Could Be the Democrats’ Best Hope.”
Anyone delusional or desperate enough to think that Joe III offers the country political hope can disabuse themselves of that notion by spending five minutes online at OpenSecrets.org. Kennedy III’s largest political contributors by industry are Lawyers & Law Firms and Securities & Investment firms. Large donors and PACs provide him with almost three-quarters of his total donations.
A few days ago, Kennedy III attacked Paul Ryan for the latter’s idiotic tweet in which he “pointed to a secretary’s $1.50 weekly increase in take-home pay as a sign of the Republican tax plan’s success.” Kennedy III tweeted back, “Meanwhile the wealthiest 0.1% of Americans receive an extra $3,000 per week.”
Which means Kennedy III is in for a big increase in his federal allowance, since his net worth hovers between $40 million and $50 million. (The average income of the top one percent is about $1.1 million.) His stock portfolio over the years has been heavy on oil and gas, Wall Street firms and pharmaceuticals, and he currently has notable holdings in ExxonMobil, Wal-Mart, Amazon and Waste Management Inc.
Kennedy III’s politics could be worse but in the end he’s a relatively cautious, vapid centrist — which is exactly what the establishment wing of the Democratic Party (and its donor base) craves. It’s bereft of ideas and desperately needs a candidate to confront the despised Bernie Sanders in the primaries. Kennedy III isn’t likely to be that candidate, but he’s one of the many trial balloons that will be floated until an anti-Sanders challenger is found.
Note: For more on the pro-Joe crowd, see Chris Lehmann’s excellent story in Baffler. “Handed a golden opportunity to deliver a forward-looking message in response to a lackluster state of the union address by the least popular first-term president in modern history, lead strategists and consultants for our notional party of the people did what they always do,” he writes. “They coughed up the heir to an exhausted liberal-managerial brand, to assure a vast nationwide viewing audience that theirs is the American political franchise terminally resistant to new ideas.”