By Richard Weizel
BRANFORD, Connecticut (Reuters) - Ted Kennedy Jr., son of the late Democratic senator from Massachusetts, Edward Kennedy, announced on Tuesday that he would run for a seat in the Connecticut state senate, his first run for political office.
Kennedy, also the nephew of assassinated President John F. Kennedy, declared his candidacy at the Blackstone Library in Branford, Connecticut, the town near New Haven where he has lived with his family for more than two decades.
"We know that politics is a family affair," Kennedy, 52, said to loud applause from an enthusiastic crowd of some 300 people, mostly Democrats. "But this is going to be a local, grassroots campaign focusing on the issues facing this district and the state of Connecticut."
He was joined on the podium by his wife, Kiki, daughter Kiley, 19, and son, Edward Moore Kennedy III, 16.
Kennedy, who lost his right leg to cancer as a child, is co-founder and president of the Marwood Group, a financial services and consulting firm focused on healthcare that is headquartered in New York City. In January, he joined the Epstein Becker Green law firm, in its healthcare and life sciences practice.
Kennedy said that as a lawmaker he would draw on his own experience as a childhood cancer survivor to fight for the rights of the disabled.
"I was 12 years old when my father walked into my hospital room and told me the bone cancer I was diagnosed with had spread and I would have to have my leg amputated," he said. "I was devastated. I thought my life was over."
But instead, after numerous surgeries and physical therapy, Kennedy said he drew inspiration from a boy he befriended who had also lost a leg - but did not have prosthesis as he did.
"I asked him why he chose not to have an artificial leg, and he said he would love to have one - but his family couldn't afford it," Kennedy said Tuesday.
"I was angry, upset and determined from that day to fight for the rights of the disabled so that no one in that situation would be denied what they needed because of not having money. I also realized I was fortunate to be part of the (Kennedy) family."
The district Kennedy is seeking to represent includes the towns of Branford, Durham, Guilford, Killingworth, Madison and North Branford.
Kennedy's candidacy follows that of his nephew, Joe Kennedy III, who won a congressional seat in 2012. His brother, Patrick, represented Rhode Island in the U.S. Congress for 16 years until 2010.
No Republican has yet announced a run for the Connecticut seat.
(Editing by Dan Whitcomb and Eric Walsh)