Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

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Kathleen Kennedy Townsend
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend giving out awards, 2001, cropped.jpg
Townsend in 2001
6th Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
In office
January 18, 1995 – January 15, 2003
Governor Parris Glendening
Preceded by Melvin Steinberg
Succeeded by Michael Steele
Personal details
Born Kathleen Hartington Kennedy
(1951-07-04) July 4, 1951 (age 62)
Greenwich, Connecticut
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) David Lee Townsend (m. 1973)
Children Meaghan, Maeve, Rose, and Kerry
Alma mater Harvard University, B.A. (1974)
University of New Mexico, J.D. (1978)
Profession Lawyer
Religion Roman Catholic
Website Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

Kathleen Hartington Kennedy Townsend (born July 4, 1951) is an American attorney who was the sixth Lieutenant Governor of Maryland from 1995 to 2003. She ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Maryland in 2002. In 2010 Townsend became the chair of the non-profit American Bridge, an organization that will raise funds for Democratic candidates and causes.[1] She is a member of the Kennedy family.

Early life, education, and law career[edit]

Kathleen was born in Greenwich, Connecticut, the eldest of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, and the eldest grandchild of Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Kennedy. She was named for her aunt Kathleen Agnes Kennedy.[2] It was not assumed that the girls in the politically oriented Kennedy family would run for office or become public persons, while she was growing up.[3] However, after her uncle President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, her father wrote her saying, "As the oldest of the next generation you have a particular responsibility..... Be kind to others and work for your country." [3] Her family gave her the nicknames "Clean Kathleen", "the Nun", and "the Un-Kennedy".[3]

Over the summer of 1964, Kennedy won four blue ribbons for her "excellence in horsemanship".[4] On August 29, 1965, a fourteen-year old Kennedy was somersaulted by her horse while competing at Sea Flash Farms in West Barnstable. She was left unconscious and bleeding internally and was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital located fifteen miles away. Her family was en route to Hyannis Port at the time of the incident and were not located for another three hours.[4] She was sixteen when her father was assassinated. The night he was shot at the Ambassador Hotel, Kennedy and her two eldest brothers, Joe and Robert, Jr., were being flown to Los Angeles aboard one of the jets in the Secret Service's presidential fleet named "the Jet Star".[5] She spent most of her childhood in McLean, Virginia, and attended Stone Ridge School in nearby Bethesda, Maryland. She graduated from The Putney School in Vermont. She attended Radcliffe College, receiving her bachelor's degree in history and literature in 1974. She then studied at the University of New Mexico School of Law, receiving her Juris Doctor degree in 1978.

For several years, she worked as an attorney in New Haven, Connecticut, while her husband attended Yale Law School. She also worked on her uncle Ted Kennedy's 1980 presidential campaign, stumped for local Democrats,[3] and was a policy analyst for the Massachusetts governor's office in the early 1980s.[6]

The family moved to Maryland, her husband's home state, in 1984.[3] In 1986, Townsend became the first Kennedy to lose a general election when she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in Maryland's strongly Republican second congressional district, using the name Townsend only.[3] Incumbent Republican Helen Delich Bentley defeated her 59% to 41%.

She then went to work for the state government of Maryland, holding numerous posts including assistant Attorney General.

Lieutenant Governor of Maryland[edit]

In 1994, Parris Glendening was running for Governor in a highly contested primary against then-Lt. Governor Melvin A. Steinberg when he selected her as his running mate. Experts did not believe she would be an asset, but her name recognition (she now used the name Kennedy Townsend) and her fund-raising skills, helped him to win.[3]

In the general election, Glendening and Townsend beat Republican candidate Ellen Sauerbrey in one of Maryland's closest and most controversial gubernatorial elections. After unofficial results indicated that Sauerbrey had lost the election by a narrow margin, she began making what The Washington Post called "sensational charges" that the election had been stolen.[7] Sauerbrey's allegations included ballot box stuffing, 100% voting in one precinct, voting by numerous dead people, and what she called the Kennedy "precedent"—that unproven rumors that John Kennedy had stolen the 1960 Presidential election proved that his niece Townsend had stolen this election.[7]

The official vote tally declared Glendening the winner by 5,993 votes out of 1.4 million.[7] Sauerbrey hired an election specialist known for aggressive tactics then filed a lawsuit alleging that 50,000 votes had been cast illegally.[7] By the time the hearing began in January 1995, however, Sauerbrey had backed away from the fraud charges and her claim centered on sloppy election procedures and 3,600 challenged ballots.[7] The number of challenged ballots would not been enough to change the result even if all them were thrown out. The judge ruled that about 1,800 votes had been cast in Baltimore by people whose names should have been purged from the rolls, but said that there was no clear and convincing evidence that fraud or procedural errors had affected the outcome.[7] Sauerbrey dropped the suit three days before Glendening was to be inaugurated, but still maintained her belief that she had won the election.[7]

Sauerbrey ran against Glendening again in 1998, but this time Glendening and Townsend won by a much wider margin (55% to 44%).

During her tenure as Lt. Governor, Townsend focused on reducing crime and promoting economic development.[3]

2002 gubernatorial election[edit]

In the Maryland gubernatorial election of 2002, Townsend faced off against Republican Robert Ehrlich and Libertarian Spear Lancaster.

During the campaign, Townsend was criticized for her choice of running mate, Admiral Charles R. Larson, a novice politician who had switched parties only a few weeks before. Larson was also a white male, unlikely to help minority turnout.[8] Ehrlich's running mate was Michael Steele, an African-American lawyer who had been chairman of the Republican Party of Maryland.

Though Maryland traditionally votes Democratic and had not elected a Republican Governor in almost 40 years, Townsend lost the race, gaining 48% of the vote to Ehrlich's 51% and Lancaster's 1%. Ehrlich became only the seventh Republican governor in state history. The Baltimore Sun said the defeat derailed her political career, at least in the short run.[8]

Post political career[edit]

Townsend, along with siblings Robert, Jr. and Kerry,[9] endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton for President in the 2008 Democratic primaries.[10] Subsequently, other family members (siblings Rory, Max, mother Ethel, cousins Caroline and Patrick and uncle Ted) endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination. Once Obama won the nomination, however, Townsend and her siblings Robert, Jr. and Kerry supported him in the general election.

Since leaving office, Townsend has written the book, Failing America's Faithful: How Today's Churches Are Mixing God with Politics and Losing Their Way, (Warner Books, 2007, ISBN 0-446-57715-4). Townsend also contributes to The Recovering Politician website started by Jonathan Miller.

She is an adjunct professor at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, and senior Nitze fellow at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

In December 2010, she was appointed chair of American Bridge, a new non-profit that will raise funds for Democratic candidates and causes, and that is intended to be a Democratic counterpart to right-leaning organizations such as American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS.[1] She noted that the Democrats did not have such an organization during the 2010 election cycle, and that Republicans outspent the Democrats by $70 million. "I want to compete dollar to a dollar with the Republicans and I want to beat them," she said.[11]

Personal life[edit]

In 1973, she married David Lee Townsend (b. 1947),[12] whom she had met when he was a graduate student and her tutor at Radcliffe.[13] David is now a member of the faculty at St. John's College in Annapolis.[14] She and her husband have four daughters: Meaghan Anne Kennedy Townsend (born November 7, 1977), Maeve Fahey Kennedy Townsend (born November 1, 1979), Rose Katherine Kennedy "Kat" Townsend (born December 17, 1983) and Kerry Sophia Kennedy Townsend (born November 30, 1991). On June 27, 2011, her daughter Maeve gave birth to a son named Gideon Joseph Kennedy McKean. Gideon is the first great-grandchild for Bobby and Ethel as well as the first of the "sixth-generation" of Kennedys.[15]

Boards[edit]

She has served on the boards of many organizations, and as a consultant to several corporations. She is chair of the Institute for Human Virology at the University of Maryland. She is on the boards of directors of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Points of Light Foundation, the Center for American Progress and Catholic Democrats. She was formerly on the independent Advisory Council of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a panel that was appointed to review the functioning of ACORN following the scandal touched off by hidden camera videos in September 2009,[16] and the board of the National Catholic Reporter. Townsend is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Inter-American Dialogue. She is also on the Board of Selectors of Jefferson Awards for Public Service.[17]

Electoral history[edit]

2002 gubernatorial election, Maryland
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Robert Ehrlich / Michael Steele 879,592 51.6%
Democratic Kathleen Kennedy Townsend / Charles R. Lawson 813,422 47.7%
Libertarian Spear Lancaster 11,546 0.7%
Republican gain from Democratic
1998 gubernatorial election, Maryland
Lieutenant Governor's seat – sharing one ballot space with the nominee for Gov.
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Parris Glendening / Kathleen Kennedy Townsend 846,972 55.2%
Republican Ellen Sauerbrey / Richard D. Bennett 688,357 44.8%
Democratic hold
1994 gubernatorial election, Maryland
Lieutenant Governor's seat – sharing one ballot space with the nominee for Gov.
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Parris Glendening / Kathleen Kennedy Townsend 708,094 50.2%
Republican Ellen Sauerbrey / Paul Rappaport 702,101 49.8%
Democratic hold
1986 U.S. congressional election, Maryland's 2nd district
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Helen Delich Bentley 96.745 59%%
Democratic Kathleen Kennedy Townsend 68,200 41%%
Republican hold

[18]

Notes[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Michael J. Bailey (December 4, 2010). "Kennedys respond to Palin barbs". The Boston Globe. 
  2. ^ Hostage to Fortune by Joseph P. Kennedy, edited by Amanda Smith
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Sally B. Donnelly (July 26, 1999). "Kathleen Kennedy Townsend: Just like her father?". CNN All Politics (TIME). 
  4. ^ a b Oppenheimer, pp. 380-381.
  5. ^ Oppenheimer, p. 453.
  6. ^ Ann Blackman (November 13, 1983). "The Privilege and the Pain of being a Kennedy". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Associated Press. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Donald P. Baker (October 12, 1998). "For Sauerbrey, Past vs. Present". The Washington Post. 
  8. ^ a b Nitkin, David (November 6, 2002). "Townsend never shook off lightweight label: Drumbeat about lack of leadership qualities dogged her to the end". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  9. ^ Kennedy Family Split On Endorsements
  10. ^ Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Kerry Kennedy (2008-01-29). "Kennedys for Clinton". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-01-29. 
  11. ^ Michael Falcone (December 2, 2010). "Kathleen Kennedy Townsend Hopes New Democratic Fundraising Group Will Avert Another ‘Disaster’ In 2012". The Note (ABC News). 
  12. ^ American Experience | The Kennedys | Kennedy Family Tree | PBS
  13. ^ "Kathleen chose the simple life". The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida). November 27, 1980. pp. 1C, 13C. 
  14. ^ "Annapolis Faculty". St. John's College. Retrieved December 6, 2010. 
  15. ^ Roxanne Roberts; Amy Argetsinger (June 29, 2011). The Reliable Source. "Love, etc.: RFK's first great-grandchild born". Washington Post. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 
  16. ^ Jake Tapper (September 16, 2009). "ACORN Reacts". Political Punch (ABC News). 
  17. ^ http://www.jeffersonawards.org/board
  18. ^ a b "Statistics of the Congressional Election, 1986". Clerk of the House of Representatives. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Melvin Steinberg
Lieutenant Governor of Maryland
January 18, 1995 – January 15, 2003
Succeeded by
Michael Steele
Party political offices
Preceded by
Parris Glendening
Democratic nominee for Governor of Maryland
2002
Succeeded by
Martin O'Malley