Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy has been conducting polling on a potential 2010 Senate run for weeks and apparently likes what he's seen. Kennedy, a son of a son of Robert F. and Ethel Kennedy, will announce his candidacy next week, according to Sneed. Kennedy has retained AKPD Message and Media, the high-profile political consulting firm founded by President Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, and has already shot a campaign ad, Sneed reports.
Kennedy is president of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., a Chicago-based property owner and management company.
A recent GOP poll on the race obtained by the Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet found the famously-named Kennedy "surprisingly lacking in name ID" and trailing State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky and embattled incumbent Senator Roland Burris in a potential Democratic primary. Kennedy was far closer in a general election matchup against GOP Rep. Mark Kirk, with 32.6% of respondents votes to Kirk's 33.2% (34.2% were undecided).
Kennedy, however, found his own polling encouraging, according to Sneed and Crain's columnist Greg Hinz, having told Hinz, "let's just say there was nothing in there that would discourage me."
Another potentially appealing factor for Kennedy could be the role of President Obama. The Sun-Times' Sneed wrote May 8 that Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel "is privately telling folks Chris Kennedy -- if he runs -- may potentially be the strongest candidate for the U.S. Senate seat once occupied by Barack Obama." And the president could be inclined to support Kennedy as a thank you for the family's backing of his presidential run, as one author of a Kennedy family book noted:
"Obama will do anything for the Kennedys," Vincent Bzdek, a Washington Post news editor and author of The Kennedy Legacy: Jack, Bobby, Ted and a Family Dream Fulfilled, told the Toronto Star. "Last year, the endorsements from Ted and Caroline were key to Obama's rise. ... There is a real connection there. And Obama has a machine."
The Illinois Republican Party has already included Kennedy in a campaign ad, 100 Days of the Same: