In 2001, Kennedy took
part in a rowing race on
the Hudson to support
Riverkeeper, the group
he co-founded and
serves as president.
live a normal life with my wife and six kids,” he says.
But he’s so troubled by what he calls the “
monumental mess” in Washington that he is again mulling the
political options that are always open to someone
with his name.
“I think,” he says, “that maybe it’s time for me to
get involved in the political process in some more
While his environmental organization direct way.” Which brings the conversation around to
flourishes, Kennedy also feels called a certain prospect that might lure him into the electoral
to the family tradition of political arena. If Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected president engagement and public service. in 2008, her Senate seat will be vacant and Spitzer will appoint someone to finish her term. That someone
likely would be a current public officeholder, but the
seat—which happens to be the seat once held by his
father and namesake—would be open in 2012.
Kennedy and his work–if not yet his candidacy–
already have won a fervent endorsement from the
Senator’s well-known husband.
“From fighting to save New York’s water supply
through his prosecution of governments and compa-
nies for polluting the Hudson River and Long Island
Sound to his service as an attorney for Riverkeeper
and the Natural Resources Defense Council, Bobby
has led the fight to keep our waters clean and our
shorelines protected,” says former president Bill
Clinton. “The environment has no better friend, no
more eloquent, passionate or persuasive advocate.”
“I would consider running for that seat,” Kennedy
admits with a smile.
He could hardly do otherwise.
entire West Coast, and we have them on all the East
Coast rivers, from the Bay of Fundy in Canada to the
St. Johns in Florida.”
Having established that floating picket line around
the American coastline, Kennedy is turning his attention eastward, toward the world’s growing economies
with their appetite for resources and their worsening
“I just launched 12 Riverkeepers in Australia last
summer, and 11 in India,” he reports. “And we just
got two applications from China. So we’re going to be
licensing them in China this summer.”
Yet, while his organization flourishes, Kennedy also
feels called to family traditions of political engagement and public service. In 2004, he wrote Crimes
Against Nature, a best-selling indictment of the
environmental and economic policies of the Bush
administration, in which he argued that “crony capitalism” has corrupted free markets in America, with
detrimental effects on families, the environment and
the nation’s future. Last year he considered running
for New York state attorney general, but decided not
to oppose his former brother-in-law, Andrew Cuomo,
who won. He also chose not to seek an appointment
from New York governor Eliot Spitzer, although
Spitzer has sought his advice on environmental policy.
“I’ve tried to avoid politics during most of my life,
because it was my hope that I could make a difference in my community, but at the same time kind of