Rep. Joe Kennedy, a rising star in the Democratic Party, will deliver the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on Tuesday, POLITICO has learned exclusively.
Kennedy (D-Mass.) is a closely watched member of the House Democratic Caucus, not only because of his famous last name but for his future ambitions. Many Democrats expect Kennedy to follow in the footsteps of his elders and run for Senate when a seat opens in Massachusetts.
“While President Trump has consistently broken his promises to the middle class, Congressman Kennedy profoundly understands the challenges facing hard-working men and women across the country,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in a statement.
Kennedy, 37, rose in national prominence last year after delivering a series of speeches blasting Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare and criticizing Trump’s response to a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va..
One video of Kennedy criticizing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) during the GOP push to dismantle the health care law garnered more than 10 million views on Facebook. A separate video post-Charlottesville was watched some 15 million times.
Tapping Kennedy is also notable because he represents a younger wave of Democrats in a party that is sometimes criticized for its cadre of older leaders and potential 2020 presidential contenders, all in their seventies.
Virginia Delegate Elizabeth Guzman will deliver the Spanish-language response for Democrats. Guzman, a Peruvian immigrant, was one of two Latinas elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in November, a first for the state.
“In their responses to the President’s address, Congressman Kennedy and Virginia Delegate Guzman will both do an excellent job in making clear that Democrats are laser-focused on enacting policies to benefit middle class Americans, not special interests or the wealthiest,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
The opposition party’s response to the State of the Union often gets a lot of attention upfront but has had mixed results — sometimes resulting in long-running parodies — in the past.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is still remembered for taking a big gulp of water in the middle of his rebuttal to President Barack Obama in 2013. And then-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal’s 2009 response is still widely panned as one of the worst in history.
Kennedy is the grandson of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy and great nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy and Sen. Edward Kennedy. His office did not respond to a request for comment.