Anyone running against a Kennedy can count on two things: a measure of robust support from those who can’t stand New England’s leading political dynasty, and a very stiff challenge in turning that particular individual out of office.
Dave Rogers, a former Navy SEAL, learned this the hard way when he ran serious campaigns against US Representative Patrick J. Kennedy in 2002 and 2004, raising a bundle of cash and using some of the gimmicky touches that can help to propel a successful campaign. He still got badly beat both times.
Yet Republican Jonathan P. Scott of Providence, who on Monday announced his second run against Kennedy, characterizes nay-saying about challenging his well-known oppo-nent as besides the point.
“I believe that this is an election cycle that will not center on Republican and Democrat or on conservative and progressive,” Scott says via e-mail. “I believe that this will be about outsiders and insiders; challengers and incumbents. 2008 is the year of the grassroots, and that’s where the money and support will come from.
“I’m asking everyone who believes that government needs to be fundamentally changed and power returned to the people to support me. This race is not about Congressman Kennedy. His family has had another terrible crisis recently and I certainly wish Senator Kennedy a full and fast recovery. This is about the system. Senator Obama has shown us that the people are ready for something different, and Ron Paul has shown us that the people understand that they, too, can support candidates with their $25 donations, which add up and buy the loyalty of elected officials away from the lobbyists and beltway insiders. I plan on appealing to that new and energized grassroots.”
Scott, 41, who develops non-profit groups, describes himself as a social moderate and fiscal conservative. He has an adopted son and serves of the board of the Ocean State Policy Research Institute, a conservative think tank.
Kennedy, who won a seat as a state representative as a 21-year-old student at Providence College, faced his most serious challenge when Republican Kevin Vigilante ran against him during his first campaign for Congress in 1994.
“Something in 2008 is different,” Scott insists. “The people want their government back. They are more willing to get involved. They are once again taking responsibility for who they put into office and they are realizing that they are the employers and the politicians the employed.
“The goal is certainly to get elected and to be sworn-in in January,” Scott continues. “Make no mistake about that, but there are other goals, as well. If, by coming out of a job at a group home in inner city Providence and gaining a serious voice in the political process, I can inspire others to take the chance and run for the General Assembly, or city council, or school commit-tee, then I have achieved a goal. If just one person understands that they and their neighbors can seize the power back from the insiders, I have been successful in a sense.”