After officially announcing on his webpage Thursday morning that he would run for United States Congress in District 4, Joe Kennedy III toured the area, making stops in Newton, Milford, and Attleboro on his way to Taunton and Westport.
Support wasn't hard to come by for the newcomer in the race, who already owns a two to one lead over possible Republican candidate Sean Bielat, according to a recent Boston Herald-UMass poll released last week.
"The support has been overwhelming," he said outside of Morin's Hometown Bar and Grille in Attleboro Thursday afternoon. "I’m greatful for it. I’m humbled by it."
Kennedy (D-Brookline) was met with dozens of supporters outside of the local restaurant, and a few unsuspecting restaurant-goers inside.
While Kennedy is the son of former Congressman Joe Kennedy and the grandson of Senator Robert Kennedy, the 31-year-old former Middlesex assistant district attorney was quick to say that he is his own person.
"I am extremely proud of my family’s service to Massachusetts and across the country," he said. "But, this campaign, I’m running it. It’s going to be about the issues and it’s going to be about going out and knocking on doors and shaking more hands."
North Attleboro resident Louise Farrands, who was inside the Attleboro restaurant when Kennedy arrived, said Kennedy's name was an asset in his campaign.
"I think he can do a lot," she said. "He’s a Kennedy. The Kennedys did good for Massachusetts. They really did."
Wheaton College senior, 23-year-old Aaron Bos-Lun, who came to show support for the new candidate, said Kennedy would be the right person to replace Barney Frank in office.
Frank (D-Newton) announced his retirement from office last fall after 16 terms.
"He is someone who I think could carry on the legacy that Barney Frank has had in congress and also be on the right side of the issues," Bos-Lun said.
Kennedy said in his campaign announcement video on his webpage that he had "very big shoes to fill" if he were to replace Frank.
He said he wanted to fight for a fair jobs plan and create a "21st century energy economy." He also said he would like to fight for education, a fair tax code and a fair housing policy.
"You can always count on me to fight for small businesses, seniors, veterans and for you to expect that you get the constituent service you've come to expect," he said.
With today's announcement, Kennedy joins a ballot with a number of other Democrats including:
- Former Barney Frank challenger Rachel Brown, of North Quincy
- Paul Heroux, of Attleboro
- Marty Farren, of Sharon
- Herb Robinson, of Newton
- Jules Levine, of Brookline
Brookline Library Trustee and Patch columnist Michael Burstein has said he will form an exploratory committee to look at the seat.
Former Fourth District challenger Sean Bielat and and Brookline School Committee member Elizabeth Childs have also said they will run on the Republican ticket.
With a strong family name and a slew of candidates, Kennedy hopes he can create his own identity over the coming months.
"It’s going to be a long campaign to follow," he said. "We can get down to those issues. On a number of those issues, I’m very proud of my family and the isssues that they’ve fought and stood for. Many of those are the cornerstones of what I believe as well."