Bobby Shriver looks more like his late father than his mother Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s side of the family, but when it comes to politics there is no denying he’s a Kennedy.
And on Tuesday, Bobby Shriver at age 59 was raising hope for many Kennedy die-hards that Camelot might still rise again from the rubble of violence and broken dreams. The nephew of former President John F. Kennedy announced his candidacy for an open seat on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the powerful group of five who govern the county.
Invoking his Kennedy family heritage–let it be known that the Kennedy dynasty isn’t dead–Shriver hung his hat on America’s most famous political dynasty that also included former Senator Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in Los Angeles during the 1968 presidential campaign, and the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Bobby Shriver’s father, R. Sargent Shriver, was founding director of the Peace Corps and the Office of Economic Opportunity and the Democratic Party vice presidential nominee in 1972. His mother Eunice founded the Special Olympics in 1968.
“I come from a family with a tradition of making a difference in people’s lives,” Shriver told reporters. “And let me tell you, Los Angeles needs that difference.
“I want your vote. I want your neighbor’s vote. I want to work with you to make our county great again.”
And if the scene wasn’t quite the waterfront at the Kennedy Compound Cape Cod along Nantucket Sound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, it was Shriver’s adopted hometown of Santa Monica, Calif., surrounded by waves crashing on the beach behind him and cyclists pedaling by.
But before you get your “Viva Kennedy” buttons out, this is a different period in American politics where the idea of a quasi-royal family and talk of a dynasty no longer holds the value it once did.
Remember the rude awakening that Shriver’s cousin, Caroline Kennedy, got in 2008 when she announced her interest in Hillary Clinton’s New York senate seat?
Caroline received so much opposition that she was forced to withdraw from the race.
So, too, with Shriver who, in getting into this race, takes on a crusty political veteran, former child actress Sheila Kuehl, who has more political experience, plus a strong liberal to moderate record in the California State Senate and Assembly.
In addition, two other candidates are also in the race: West Hollywood Councilman John Duran and former Malibu Mayor Pamela Conley Ulich.
“I’m an outsider,” Shriver said in casting himself in the role of someone not part of the system he would like to change. “I’m not a career politician.”
How that will play with the constituency in the district, including part of Kuehl’s base for years, remains to be seen.
The district also covers the western part of Los Angeles County, including the Westside, most of the San Fernando Valley, the Conejo Valley and the Santa Monica Mountains to the Ventura County line.
Before she ran for office, Kuehl was a civil rights attorney, a founder of the California Women’s Law Center and a law professor.
Shriver himself is also not completely outside the political system. He was formerly on the Santa Monica City Council and served as mayor and mayor pro tempore.
But on Tuesday, he chose to emphasize his work as a lawyer, a venture capitalist, an entrepreneur, a film producer, a reporter and a philanthropist.
“I’ve done different things,” he said. “I haven’t been a career legislator. And I think people will decide whether they want a career legislator or a more entrepreneurial spirit.”
Kuehl’s campaign took immediate note.
“It seems odd,” said Parke Skelton, a consultant to Kuehl’s campaign, “that Bobby Shriver would be casting aspersions on Sheila’s phenomenal record of leadership.”