The United States Senate special election of 1962 in Massachusetts was held on November 6, 1962. The election was won by
Edward M. Kennedy, the youngest brother of President
John F. Kennedy, who would remain Senator until his death in 2009, 47 years later.
Ted Kennedy first faced a Democratic Party primary challenge from
Edward J. "Eddie" McCormack, Jr., the
state Attorney General. 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. 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. Kennedy also faced the notion that with one brother President and another
U.S. Attorney General, "Don't you think that Teddy is one Kennedy too many?" But Kennedy proved to be an effective street-level campaigner. In a televised debate, McCormack said "The office of United States senator should be merited, and not inherited," and said that if his opponent's name was Edward Moore rather than Edward Moore Kennedy, his candidacy "would be a joke." Voters thought McCormack's performance overbearing; combined with the family political machine's finally getting fully behind him, Kennedy won the September 1962 primary by a two-to-one margin.
Democratic primary for the United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, 1962
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.
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.
United States Senate special election in Massachusetts, 1962