DOWNTOWN — He’s no longer mayor of Santa Monica, but come January, Councilman Bobby Shriver will have a different reason to feel special: He’s about to become the only Kennedy in political office.

With the retirement of Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island), the son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), from the U.S. House next month, Washington, D.C. will be without an elected Kennedy for the first time in 63 years.

And Shriver, the son of Eunice Kennedy Shriver and a nephew of President John F. Kennedy, will become the famous family’s lone elected official.

To some, it’s a sign of the times that America’s most notable political dynasty has been reduced to a single seat on a part-time City Council.

“This is a family that once had the presidency and two Senate seats, and they’re now down to the [ex-] mayor of Santa Monica,” Darrell M. West, a Brookings Institution scholar, told the New York Times this month. “It’s a pretty dramatic fall, and it’s symbolic of the decline of liberalism.”

But Shriver has a different take.

“I think it’s baloney,” he told the Daily Press. “I think [West] should come to Santa Monica and I’ll show him how many serious issues we’re facing.”

Holding local office, he said, might not bring with it the luster of the U.S. Senate. But it’s part of the family’s roots.

“I’m thrilled to be in local politics. I’ve had an incredible education from it,” he said. “The family started in local politics and the lessons we learned from our great grandpa [Patrick Joseph Kennedy, a saloon owner and Massachusetts legislator in the 1880s] — those are the things that made us successful in national politics, so I’m happy to be learning them here in Santa Monica.”

So, has his status as the only Kennedy in the family business caused him to ratchet up his political ambitions? After all, he has considered jumping onto a bigger political stage before, exploring a run for California Attorney General during 2009 but deciding not to join the race for the Democratic nomination.

“Honestly, no,” he said. “Being the only person in office doesn’t make me think ‘I should run for more offices’ … I’m 100 percent focused on the things I’m trying to do in Santa Monica and in the greater L.A. region, in particular the homelessness and homeless veterans matters.”

Then, like a true politician, he hedged: “If I saw [an opportunity to run for office] that was creative and could be fun, I’d take a very serious look at it. I would think about it and I hope that I would do a good job at it.”

nickt@www.smdp.com

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