The Rhode Island Democrat's term ends early next year but he says in a television message viewed by The Associated Press on Thursday that his life is "taking a new direction" and he will not seek a ninth term. The video was provided to the AP by Kennedy's congressional office.The death of his father hit him quite hard. The era of Camelot is truly over in US political history as a person named Kennedy will not be serving in a political capacity in Congress or higher elected office following the end of Patrick's term.
The 42-year-old son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy does not give a reason for the decision but says it has been a difficult few years for many people and he mentions the death in August of his father.
"Illness took the life of my most cherished mentor and confidante, my ultimate source of spirit and strength," he said, as a black-and-white photo of him as a boy sailing with his father appeared on the screen. "From the countless lives he lifted, to the American promise he helped shape, my father taught me that politics at its very core was about serving others."
The announcement is to air Sunday on Rhode Island television stations.
The decision comes less than a month after a stunning upset by Republican Scott Brown in the race for the Massachusetts Senate seat his father held for almost half a century. Last week, as Brown was sworn into the seat, Patrick Kennedy called Brown's candidacy a "joke" and predicted Brown would betray his union supporters.
Mark Weiner, a major Democratic fundraiser in Rhode Island and one of Kennedy's top financial backers, said he had spoken with Kennedy about his decision, and that his father's death had taken an enormous toll.
"It's tough to get up and go to work every day when your partner is not there," Weiner said. "I think he just had a broken heart after his father passed away."
I can only hope that he doesn't relapse into an addiction to help deal with the pain of his loss; Patrick has had addiction problems before, and that's led to several problems with law enforcement, including a DUI case where he crashed his car in a late night crash in Washington DC, which was curiously omitted from the AP report noted above. He entered a plea deal and went to the Mayo Clinic for treatment (which AP does mention), and again omits an earlier suspicious crash in Rhode Island.