1962 United States Senate special election in Massachusetts

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1962 United States Senate special election in Massachusetts

← 1958 November 6, 1962 1964 →
  Ted Kennedy Cropped 1962 (1).jpg 3x4.svg
Nominee Ted Kennedy George C. Lodge
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,162,611 877,668
Percentage 55.44% 41.85%

U.S. Senator before election

Benjamin A. Smith II

Elected U.S. Senator

Ted Kennedy

The United States Senate special election of 1962 in Massachusetts was held on November 6, 1962. The election was won by Ted Kennedy, the youngest brother of then-President John F. Kennedy, who would remain Senator until his death in 2009.


Senator John F. Kennedy resigned the seat to become President of the United States after winning the presidential election in 1960. Benjamin A. Smith II, a Kennedy family friend, was appointed to succeed Kennedy, serving as a placeholder for Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, who at the time was too young to be constitutionally eligible for the seat.[1]

Democratic primary[edit]





Ted Kennedy first faced a Democratic Party primary challenge from Edward J. "Eddie" McCormack Jr., the state Attorney General. Kennedy's slogan was "He can do more for Massachusetts", the same one John had used in his first campaign for the seat ten years earlier.[2] McCormack had the support of many liberals and intellectuals, who thought Kennedy inexperienced ("I back Jack but Teddy ain't ready") and knew of his suspension from Harvard, a fact which subsequently became public during the race.[3] Kennedy also faced the notion that with one brother President and another U.S. Attorney General, "Don't you think that Teddy is one Kennedy too many?"[1] But Kennedy proved to be an effective street-level campaigner.[1] In a televised debate, McCormack said "The office of United States senator should be merited, and not inherited," and said that if his opponent's name was Edward Moore rather than Edward Moore Kennedy, his candidacy "would be a joke."[3] Voters thought McCormack's performance overbearing; combined with the family political machine's finally getting fully behind him, Kennedy won the September 1962 primary by a two-to-one margin.[1]


Democratic primary for the United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, 1962
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy 559,303 69.33
Democratic Edward J. McCormack Jr. 247,403 30.67
Source: Our Campaigns - MA US Senate - D Primary Race - Sep 18, 1962

Republican primary[edit]



Republican primary for the United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, 1962 [4]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Republican George Cabot Lodge 244,921 55.49
Republican Laurence Curtis 196,444 44.51

Independents and third parties[edit]



Socialist Labor[edit]

  • Lawrence Gilfedder, perennial candidate

General election[edit]


In the November special election, Kennedy defeated Lodge, whose father had lost this seat to then-Representative John F. Kennedy in 1952. In winning, Kennedy gained 55 percent of the vote.[1][5]

For most of the campaign, independent candidate Hughes was taken seriously, even engaging in two televised debates with Lodge. (Kennedy, by then an overwhelming favorite, declined to participate.) Any chance that Hughes might have had of winning the election or even receiving widespread support was destroyed in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile crisis, only weeks before the election, in which the President and his brother Robert F. Kennedy took the nation "to the brink" of nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. A candidate favoring nuclear disarmament suddenly seemed unrealistic and out of touch; Hughes received less than two per cent of the vote and far fewer votes than he previously had signatures.

United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, 1962
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Democratic Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy 1,162,611 55.44 Decrease17.76
Republican George Cabot Lodge II 877,668 41.85 Increase15.62
Independent H. Stuart Hughes 50,013 2.38 N/A
Socialist Labor Lawrence Gilfedder 5,330 0.25 Decrease0.04
Prohibition Mark R. Shaw 1,439 0.07 Decrease0.22
Democratic hold


  1. ^ a b c d e "Teddy & Kennedyism". Time. 1962-09-28. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  2. ^ Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2008). The Almanac of American Politics. Washington: National Journal Group. p. 791. ISBN 0-89234-117-3.
  3. ^ a b Swidey, Neil (2009-02-16). "Chapter 2: The Youngest Brother: Turbulence and tragedies eclipse early triumphs". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  4. ^ a b http://www.ourcampaigns.com/RaceDetail.html?RaceID=24510
  5. ^ "Edward Kennedy (Dem)". The Washington Times. 2006-05-05.
  6. ^ http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/1962election.pdf