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"But he’s one of the most modest, humble individuals you’ll ever meet," Swalwell continued. "He stands on his own two feet. That’s what’s important. He would be in Congress regardless of what his name is. ... He’s demonstrated nothing but a willingness to do the grunt work like the rest of us."
Back in his Massachusetts district, Kennedy has drawn admiration and curiosity in an overwhelming Democratic state where the family name is an institution. Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki, is still mentioned as a potential candidate for statewide office. And Ted Kennedy Jr., 51, has considered political runs.
Despite his lack of experience, Joe Kennedy III easily won his general election last fall with more than 60 percent of the vote.
"I wanted to get to know him. I voted for him. I didn’t even know if he was 30!" said Franklin attorney Deb Batog, 48, who attended a recent luncheon for the Milford Area Chamber of Commerce simply to hear Kennedy speak.
But she said his name would only carry him so far.
"He’s still going to have to prove it," Batog said. "Can he create his own legacy? Nobody knows."
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