WASHINGTON – Rep. Patrick Kennedy (search), D-R.I., on Wednesday ruled out a run for the Senate in 2006, saying he could better serve his constituents by staying in the House and serving on the Appropriations Committee.
Kennedy has been in Boston caring for his mother, Joan Kennedy (search), who was hospitalized with a concussion and a broken shoulder after a passer-by found her lying in a street Tuesday.
In a statement, Kennedy did not cite family responsibilities as a reason for his decision, but he and his brother and sister recently took temporary guardianship of his mother to ensure she receives treatment for her alcoholism. Patrick Kennedy was seeking to become her permanent legal guardian.
"I am grateful for the support and encouragement I have received to run for the Senate," he said. "But over the past few days, I have determined that I can make the greatest difference in the lives of Rhode Island families by remaining on the Appropriations Committee in the House of Representatives and fighting for their priorities." The committee controls about a third of the nearly $2.6 trillion federal budget.
Kennedy had been encouraged to run for the Senate against Republican incumbent Sen. Lincoln Chafee (search), after Rhode Island's other Democratic congressman, Jim Langevin (search), decided not to seek the Senate seat.
Kennedy, who is in his sixth term, said he was humbled by the pressure to run, but ultimately decided he should stay on the powerful Appropriations panel, where he has been able to secure funding for state projects. He also said he wants to continue his work on health issues, including mental health programs.
Kennedy's mother, the former wife of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (search), D-Mass., was taken to Tufts New England Medical Center around 3 a.m. Tuesday.
"I would also like to thank everyone for their outpouring of support for my mother," Patrick Kennedy wrote. "My family means everything to me and I would appreciate you respecting my family's privacy at this time."
Sen. Kennedy said he respected his son's decision, adding, "He's right to put personal considerations aside and do what he feels is best for the people of Rhode Island, whom he cares about so much and serves so well."