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1962 United States Senate special election in Massachusetts

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1962 United States Senate special election in Massachusetts

← 1958 November 6, 1962 1964 →
Ted Kennedy Cropped 1962 (1).jpg
Nominee Ted Kennedy George C. Lodge
Party Democratic Republican
Popular vote 1,162,611 877,668
Percentage 55.44% 41.85%

U.S. senator before election

Benjamin A. Smith II

Elected U.S. Senator

Ted Kennedy

The United States Senate special election of 1962 in Massachusetts was held on November 6, 1962. The election was won by Ted Kennedy, the youngest brother of then-President John F. Kennedy, who would remain Senator until his death in 2009.

As of 2021, Kennedy and Lodge's combined age of 65 remains the youngest for two major candidates in a United States Senate election.


Senator John F. Kennedy resigned the seat to become President of the United States after winning the presidential election in 1960. Benjamin A. Smith II, a Kennedy family friend, was appointed to succeed Kennedy, serving as a placeholder for Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy, who at the time was too young to be constitutionally eligible for the seat.[1]

Democratic primary





Ted Kennedy first faced a Democratic Party primary challenge from Edward J. "Eddie" McCormack Jr., the state Attorney General and nephew of U.S. Speaker of the House John W. McCormack. McCormack had the support of many liberals and intellectuals, who thought Kennedy inexperienced ("I back Jack but Teddy ain't ready") and knew of his suspension from Harvard, a fact which subsequently became public during the race.[2]

Kennedy's slogan was "He can do more for Massachusetts", the same one John had used in his first campaign for the seat ten years earlier.[3] Kennedy also faced the notion that with one brother the President and another the United States Attorney General, "Don't you think that Teddy is one Kennedy too many?"

But Kennedy proved to be an effective street-level campaigner[1] with great personal appeal.

In a televised debate, McCormack said "The office of United States senator should be merited, and not inherited", and that if his opponent's name was Edward Moore rather than Edward Moore Kennedy, his candidacy "would be a joke".[2] A Kennedy supporter said that "McCormack was able to make a millionaire an underdog". With the public's sympathy and the family political machine, Kennedy won 69% of the vote in the September 1962 primary.[4][1]


A delegate at the state Democratic convention said, "He's completely unqualified and inexperienced. And I'm going to be with him". Kennedy won on the first ballot at the convention.[4]


1962 U.S. Senate special Democratic primary
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy 559,303 69.33%
Democratic Edward J. McCormack Jr. 247,403 30.67%
Total votes 806,706 100.00%
Source: Our Campaigns - MA US Senate - D Primary Race - Sep 18, 1962

Republican primary



1962 U.S. Senate special Republican primary[5]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican George C. Lodge 244,921 55.49
Republican Laurence Curtis 196,444 44.51
Total votes 441,365 100.00%

Independents and third parties



Socialist Labor

  • Lawrence Gilfedder, perennial candidate

General election


For most of the campaign, independent candidate Hughes was taken seriously, even engaging in two televised debates with Lodge. (Kennedy, by then an overwhelming favorite, declined to participate.) Any chance that Hughes might have had of winning the election or even receiving widespread support was destroyed in the aftermath of the Cuban Missile crisis, only weeks before the election, in which the President and his brother Robert F. Kennedy took the nation "to the brink" of nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union. A candidate favoring nuclear disarmament suddenly seemed unrealistic and out of touch; Hughes received less than two per cent of the vote and far fewer votes than he previously had signatures.[citation needed]


In the November special election, Kennedy defeated Lodge, whose father had lost this seat to then-Representative John F. Kennedy in 1952. In winning, Kennedy gained 55 percent of the vote.[1][6] Murray Levin stated that Kennedy's youth and political inexperience made him an innocent outsider, and his wealth made him incorruptible. The prosecutor had become a Senator, Levin said, "with one year of frantic campaigning and 30 years of experience as a Kennedy".[4]

1962 U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Ted Kennedy 1,162,611 55.44% Decrease17.76
Republican George C. Lodge 877,668 41.85% Increase15.62
Independent H. Stuart Hughes 50,013 2.38% N/A
Socialist Labor Lawrence Gilfedder 5,330 0.25% Decrease0.04
Prohibition Mark R. Shaw 1,439 0.07% Decrease0.22
Total votes 2,097,061 100.00%
Democratic hold


  1. ^ a b c d "Teddy & Kennedyism". Time. 1962-09-28. Retrieved 2008-05-23.
  2. ^ a b Swidey, Neil (2009-02-16). "Chapter 2: The Youngest Brother: Turbulence and tragedies eclipse early triumphs". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
  3. ^ Barone, Michael; Cohen, Richard E. (2008). The Almanac of American Politics. Washington: National Journal Group. p. 791. ISBN 0-89234-117-3.
  4. ^ a b c Eaton, William J. (June 18, 1968). "Charm And Image Overcame Errors As 'Prince' Rose Rapidly to Senate". The Pittsburgh Press. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Chicago Daily News. p. 17.
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ "Edward Kennedy (Dem)". The Washington Times. 2006-05-05.
  7. ^
This page was last edited on 29 December 2020, at 21:31
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