The First Kennedy To Be Turned Down By The Voters

In light of yesterday's death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, my trivia question in today's Junkie segment on Talk of the Nation was:

Who was the first member of the immediate Kennedy family — that is, Eunice's siblings, and her siblings' children — to be defeated by voters in a bid for office, either in a primary or a general election?

The answer: Bobby Kennedy, who lost the 1968 Oregon presidential primary to Eugene McCarthy.

But not everyone was sure.

Cody Cowdin of Hartland, Wis., wrote, "I'm pretty sure that the first of JFK's siblings to lose an election was, in fact, Joe Kennedy, Jr. I believe he ran for elected office (in Massachussets, methinks) sometime before World War II."

Nope, Joe Jr. never ran for office. Joe Sr.'s plan had always been to have his oldest (and favorite) son go into politics. But the 29-year old Joe Jr. was lost over Europe when his plane went down during World War II — ironically, on this very day in 1944.

And Frank Cuoco wanted to know why I omitted John Kennedy and his unsuccessful bid for vice president in 1956.

JFK did make a bid for vice president at the '56 Democratic convention, after presidential nominee Adlai Stevenson threw the decision up to the delegates. Kennedy fell to Sen. Estes Kefauver of Tennessee on the second ballot.

But I anticipated someone calling in with the Kennedy for VP campaign, and that's why I specifically said I was looking for a defeat handed to a Kennedy by voters (as opposed to delegates) in a primary or general election (not a convention ballot).

The first Kennedy to lose a general election, and one caller correctly had this, was Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, who was defeated in a bid for Congress against Rep. Helen Bentley (R) in 1986.

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