Election 2014: Mixed Results for America’s Favorite Dynastic Political Families


Ignore all the meaningless spin about "vote counts" and "democratic outcomes". This is America, and American elections are about one thing: The ups and downs of our wealthy political dynastic families.

So, how’d they do on Tuesday? What’s the status of heritable oligarchy in the ol’ Republic? Robust? Teetering? Well, there were a few setbacks and a few triumphs. First, the Nunns and Carters of Georgia are clearly fading. And both showed that the heralded purpling of that state is still years away. Jimmy Carter’s grandson Jason lost his race for governor. And Sam Nunn’s daughter Michelle tanked in the Senate despite expectations of a close race.

But all is not lost for the misguided dynasty lovers out there, because huzzah, the Kennedys and the Bushes are back in business. Which means the Clinton-Bush presidential race of 2024 is still on track (laugh, but you just wait and see). George P. Bush, pictured above, the 38-year-old son of Jeb, won his lopsided race for Texas Land Commissioner, a somewhat obscure position but one that will allow him to quietly plot his future world domination. (The 2024 Clinton, of course, will be Chelsea, who can do the same from her perch as vice chair of the Clinton Foundation, which is now called (seriously) the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation.) George P. Bush’s Democratic opponent, former mayor of El Paso John Cook, didn’t know he would be running against a Bush when he got in the race for Land Commissioner. “That made it a little more challenging,” Cook said. I bet it did. 

For those enamored by the rank nepotism and perverse nostalgia that keeps the necrotic Kennedy dynasty going, last night was a pretty good night. The Kennedys started their political rennaisance in 2012 when Joseph Kennedy III , RFK’s 34 year-old grandson, won Barney Frank’s old Congressional seat in Massachusetts.

This cycle the clan seems to have tempered the scope of their ambition quite a bit, sending no one new to Washington. Ted Kennedy’s son, Ted Jr., a 53 year-old Connecticut lawyer, won a seat in the Connecticut state Senate. Bravo.

The other Kennedy angle is definitely the most bizarre Beltway story of the election In DC, Joseph Kennedy Smith, the 53 year-old nephew of JFK, RFK, and Teddy, won a spot on the DC Advisory Neighborhood Commission, or ANC, to represent his neighborhood of Foggy Bottom (he lives at the Watergate, fittingly). The ANC is DC’s lowest rung of hyper-local governance. Commissioners wield no actual power but their recommendations to the DC City Council are supposed to be given some sort of unspecified weight. Most candidates run unopposed for the unpaid position. Kennedy did have an opponent however, a lawyer named Thomas Martin, who like George P. Bush’s hard luck opponent, also entered the race before he knew who he’d be up against:

Martin said he learned about his opponent while circulating ballot petitions in his apartment building. A neighbor asked him if he had met the competition, Martin said. “She said his name, and I just paused for a moment, and I said, ‘Kennedy, Kennedy?’

Oof, tough luck. In America you can be whoever you want unless a Kennedy or a Bush wants to be the same thing you want to be.

There was one key setback in Kennedy-land though. Bobby Shriver, son to Eunice Kennedy, lost his race for the LA County Board of Supervisors, despite high-profile celebrity support in Hollywood. Clearly, his key impediment is that he doesn’t actually have the word Kennedy in his name. When a voter is looking to conjure up the false glamour of the execrable "Camelot" myth, a Shriver just will not do. 

Elsewhere, the Udalls of the American West are a member down, with Mark losing in Colorado and his cousin Tom prevailing in New Mexico.

Other notable items:

  • Three lawmakers under federal indictment got reelected in New York on Tuesday, including Republican Congressman Michael Grimm, who in addition to his 20-count indictment for tax fraud, famously threatened to throw a reporter off the Capitol balcony and "break him in half like a boy." He won by 13 points. Staten Island.
  • 18-year-old Saira Blair became the youngest lawmaker in the country on Tuesday when she won a seat in the West Virginia state legislature. As a 17-year-old high school senior last May, she primaried the 66-year-old Republican incumbent. Perhaps a dynasty in the making: her dad is the state senator for the area.
  • Elections-Have-Consequences Part Eleventy-million: The most vigorous climate denier in all of Congress, Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma, will now be your new Chairman of the Senate committee responsible for, yep, environmental and climate policy. You might want to brush up on his nuanced view of the subject in his 2012 book, The Greatest Hoax: How the Global Warming Conspiracy Threatens Your Future.
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