“I expect it. I have no illusion about how dirty this could get,” Kennedy said in an interview for POLITICO’s Women Rule podcast.
In a sense, Amy Kennedy probably wouldn’t be running for Congress if not for Donald Trump. Yes, she married into America’s preeminent political dynasty. Yes, her husband is former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Ted and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. Yes, her own father was a local city councilman and freeholder in southern New Jersey.
Even so, Amy Kennedy did not set out to run for office. A longtime schoolteacher who left the classroom in recent years to advocate full-time for improving mental health in America’s schools, Kennedy was content staying politically active from the sidelines. (“With the last name ‘Kennedy,’ we follow politics very closely,” she said.)
Then came Van Drew’s meeting with Trump.
“It was gut-churning,” Kennedy said. “As a schoolteacher, we have, in the classroom, teachable moments. They are these unplanned moments, opportunities that are a period of reflection and you can either seize that or it passes by if you don’t. And it really felt like this was the time for that. I have five young children. I would love to wait to do something like this and hope that they could be grown, but it felt like if now wasn’t the time, when would be?””
Kennedy, a fourth generation resident of south Jersey, sees the race as “a unique opportunity to marry both my last name with my local roots.”
She’s aware of the expectations and attention that accompany her last name.
“Listen, the Kennedy family is great. I really can’t say anything more than I am so blessed to have them as relatives and family now, and have married into a family that really cares,” she said. “We’ve been able to be witness to so many areas where they’ve made positive change, and yet also be together in the summer and have fun and go sailing and play games in the yard with the kids. And I will take whatever else comes with that, because it’s really been a blessing.”
And if her last name draws President Trump’s attention and subjects her to his verbal assaults, so be it.
“We, as a family, are subject to goodwill that we are so appreciative for, and also attacks that may be unwarranted and that’s just part of this,” she said. “Growing up in the same place that I currently live, I’ve got the people that know me. And I feel like when you have that, other strangers’ attacks really are less meaningful because I’ve got such a strong network that really know me, and that’s whose opinions matter.”
To hear more from Amy Kennedy, listen to the full podcast episode here. Women Rule takes listeners backstage with female bosses for real talk on how they made it and what advice they have for women looking to lead.