Joe Kennedy siphons votes from Coakley, NOT Brown

I’ve been keeping a pretty close watch on the special election race in Massachusetts, to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in the U.S. Senate. And there’s three big things I’ve noticed: (1) People are forgetting that there will be THREE names that will be on that Jan. 19th ballot; (2) That third name is JOE KENNEDY (Independent); and (3) People think that he’ll pull votes from Scott Brown.

But the fact is, Joe Kennedy will pull a LOT more votes from Martha Coakley than from Scott Brown.

(1) Joseph L. Kennedy – no relation to THAT Kennedy clan – was able to gather the 10,000 petition signatures required to get on the ballot for this special election. He mostly spent his own money to hire petitioners to supplement volunteer efforts. Others tried and failed; Kennedy made it. He’s already been in one radio debate and one televised debate, and is scheduled to be in the next ones as well. A libertarian and a member of the Campaign for Liberty, he’s got dedicated supporters campaigning for him who are applying hard-learned lessons from their days pushing Ron Paul for President across Massachusetts.

(2) This guy’s name is Joe Kennedy, for crying out loud. Massachusetts Democrats are not well-known for their, ah, high intelligence quotient; I’m willing to bet that a LOT of them will be checking that box for the name they’ve blindly checked off since the 1960s – especially the older demographic who are known for voting in every election. Remember, this is a special election, which historically have low turnouts; so if a large demographic is going in and voting for Joe Kennedy because they think he’s “their” Joe Kennedy, that can be a game-changer.

(3) With all of that in mind, the idea that Kennedy is going to siphon votes from Scott Brown is, I believe, mistaken. Think about it: why is Martha Coakley refusing to debate Scott Brown unless Joe Kennedy is included? It’s not from some altruistic sense of electoral fairness, you can be sure of that. And it’s not because she thinks that Kennedy’s going to convince a whole lot of Republicans to switch over and vote for him; that 16% of the electorate is probably not going anywhere else. It’s simple: she wants to make it as clear as possible to Democrats that he’s NOT “that” Joe Kennedy, because she recognizes how likely it is his name is going to pull a LOT of Democrat votes.

But not many people watch those debates, and there’s not much time for Coakley to run a bunch of ads telling Democrats not to vote for Joe Kennedy. Besides, she’s busy trying to convince the voters who are supposed to be her constituency to get out there and vote for her.

Joe Kennedy is on the ballot on January 19th. A majority isn’t needed in order to win; the one with the most votes gets it. And because Kennedy is on the ballot, it’s going to split Coakley’s vote enough for one of two things to happen: either Scott Brown wins, or Joe Kennedy does.

And either one would be a real slap in the face to the Democrats – and the 41st vote against socialized health care. And that’s fine with me.

Full disclosure: I am the chairman of a PAC that has endorsed Joe Kennedy.