RFK's Son Weighs Bid for Obama's Former Senate Seat in Illinois

A son of the late Robert F. Kennedy is considering a run for the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Obama, the latest member of his family dynasty to take a stab at politics.

The seat Christopher Kennedy is interested in is now held by Sen. Roland Burris, who was appointed by ousted former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Spokeswoman Kasey Madden said Wednesday that Kennedy was "seriously considering" a run but wouldn't say when he would announce his decision.

Kennedy's father was a U.S. senator when he was assassinated in 1968. He is a nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy and current U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts. His cousin, Caroline Kennedy, earlier this year dropped a bid to be appointed to a Senate seat from New York.

If Kennedy, a Chicago businessman, enters the race, he'll be part of what's shaping up to be a crowded Democratic primary election for Burris' seat. Illinois State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias already is raising money and U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky is considering a run, too.

The seat has been in the spotlight since Blagojevich appointed Burris to it after the then-governor's arrest on federal corruption charges. Burris has been under investigation by the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee and the Sangamon County state's attorney for changing his story about the circumstances of his appointment.

He has not said whether he will seek re-election.

The Kennedy moniker carries instant name recognition and money, two things needed to win an expensive, contested Senate primary in Illinois, said Michael Mezey, a DePaul University political science professor.

But being part of the Kennedy clan is no guarantee of political success.

"Voters do not always like the sense of entitlement that comes with a family name," Mezey said.

Most recently, Caroline Kennedy failed in her bid to be appointed to the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

She withdrew her name after a rocky public relations campaign to drum up support left critics questioning everything from her experience and desire for the job to her speaking style, which was filled with "ums" and "you knows."

At 45, Christopher Kennedy is a prominent member of Chicago's business community. He is president of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., which manages real estate around the country, including Chicago's Merchandise Mart, a sprawling complex at the heart of the city's design industry. MMPI is part of New Jersey-based Vornado Realty Trust, which bought the downtown Chicago design hub and other properties from the Kennedy family in 1998, according to the company's Web site.

The eighth of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children, Kennedy has a master's degree from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management. He and his wife live in the wealthy Chicago suburb of Kenilworth with their four children.

Kennedy is active in civic life. He serves on the boards of trustees for a Chicago investment company started by a friend of Obama and for the Chicago Theological Union, a Catholic graduate school of theology and ministry.