At a press conference in his Boston constituency, Mr Kennedy - the nephew of JFK and son of Bobby Kennedy - stunned supporters yesterday by confirming that after six terms in the US House of Representatives he will not stand for re-election in November.
Only 12 months ago, the political star of Joe Kennedy seemed still to be in the ascendant with many tagging him as the probable next Governor of Massachusetts. Multiple mishaps last year, however, served to knock him severely off track and send his popularity in the state dropping.
Mr Kennedy was lacerated by a book written by his ex-wife, Sheila Rauch Kennedy, in which she claimed he tried to force her into an annulment of their marriage by the Vatican. Just as damaging was a scandal that erupted last summer about an alleged sexual tryst between his brother, Michael, and a teenage family baby-sitter. In the wake of that brouhaha, Joe Kennedy announced that he would not be running for the governorship.
He was finally spurred into retirement by Michael's death in a skiing accident in Aspen in January. He then took over the leadership of the Citizens Energy Corporation, which he founded in 1979 and which Michael had been running.
Declaring that he was dedicating himself to Citizens Energy and to his new wife and two sons, Joe Kennedy said he would continue to work to ease injustice and poverty.Reuse content