She seeks to oust a congressman who changed parties to become a Republican

By Diane Herbst
January 07, 2020 09:22 AM
Amy Kennedy
Credit: YouTube

Another Kennedy is entering politics.

Amy Kennedy, the wife of Patrick Kennedy and daughter-in-law of Sen. Ted Kennedy, announced Monday she is running for congress in New Jersey. The mother of five and former public school teacher said in a YouTube video that she is seeking to challenge Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a former Democrat who became a Republican in December in a show of “undying support” for President Donald Trump.

“When I watched Jeff Van Drew abandon the Democratic Party and become a Trump apologist, I had to act,” Amy wrote in a tweet.

Amy, a New Jersey native, and Patrick, a former eight-term Democratic Rhode Island congressman and the youngest son of the late Sen. Kennedy, live in Brigantine, a southern New Jersey town near Atlantic City.

The couple met in 2010 at a charity event where Patrick was speaking, and Amy fell in love watching him read The Berenstain Bears to her then 3-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, according to a 2011 PEOPLE profile of Patrick.

Patrick, a mental health and addiction recovery advocate, has worked diligently — and openly — to overcome his own struggles with substance abuse and mental illness. Before their July 2011 wedding, Amy told PEOPLE: “I don’t have a guarantee that he’ll always be perfect or be able to maintain his health, but I know he is such a supportive and loving partner that I’m willing to be in this with him.”

Since then, Amy has worked closely with Patrick as education director of The Kennedy Forum, devoted to improving mental health care policy.

The couple has four children together and in 2015 shared photos of newborn daughter Nell with PEOPLE.

In her one-minute campaign video this week announcing her run for the 2nd District house seat, Amy talked of knowing “the importance of instilling good values in our kids.”

“But too many of our leaders have lost their moral compass,” she said. “Trump and Van Drew are symptoms of a bigger sickness infecting our country and our politics.”

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Amy also spoke about about the importance of civility, the country’s ongoing mental health and addiction crisis and environmental issues.

“I can’t sit back and wait for things for change,” she said. “Everything is on the line.”

Amy is the second Kennedy to announce a run for national office in 2020. Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, is challenging Democratic Sen. Ed Markey in the primary race.

Amy must also win a primary race in June against a field of several other Democrats before being able to move on to the general election against Van Drew in November.