BOSTON — Joseph Kennedy III has launched his campaign for the Massachusetts congressional seat now held by retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank.
The Democrat released a video announcement on his website Thursday before heading out on a campaign swing through the 4th Congressional District.
Kennedy started by greeting commuters at the Newton Center MBTA Station and talking to customers at a nearby diner. There, while addressing reporters, he was asked whether his Kennedy name alone is reason for people to vote for him.
"I'm very, very proud of my family's record of public service to the commonwealth and to our country," he said. "This campaign is going to be about the issues and about who goes out there and earns it."
Kennedy told reporters that he's learned one thing from his family about politics: "You gotta earn it. You gotta go out every day and talk to people, listen to their concerns, shake more hands, knock on more doors, make more phone calls."
He is the son of former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and a grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy.
Kennedy recently left his job as a prosecutor and moved from Cambridge to Brookline, part of the state's newly redrawn 4th district.
Kennedy was scheduled to make stops later Thursday in Milford, Attleboro, Taunton and Westport.
Three other Democrats and two Republicans — including Sean Bielat, who challenged Frank in 2010 — are planning runs for the seat.
Bielat is undaunted by the entry of a Kennedy in the race.
"He's a big name in Massachusetts," he said. "I mean, it's well-known, but at the end of the day it doesn't change what I'm doing that much. It's still the same process as it was in 2010. It's about getting out and talking to voters and stuff."
Bielat predicts the economy will be defining issue of the race.
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This article was originally published on February 15, 2012.
This program aired on February 15, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.