The next Scott Brown?

John J. Loughlin’s suddenly high-profile campaign to oust Patrick Kennedy

by David Scharfenberg
The Providence Phoenix
February 10, 2010

PHOTO BY RICHARD MCCAFFREY | OUT OF THE ASSEMBLY Loughlin, like Brown, is hoping to jump from am obscure seat in the state legislature to a spot in Congress.

PHOTO BY RICHARD MCCAFFREY | OUT OF THE ASSEMBLY Loughlin, like Brown, is hoping to jump from am obscure seat in the state legislature to a spot in Congress.

Republican Scott Brown’s victory last month in the race for the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat has every two-bit GOP hopeful in the Northeast claiming the mantle of the pick-up truck populist.

But the argument has a special ring to it in Rhode Island’s First Congressional District, where little-known State Representative John J. Loughlin II is waging a suddenly high-profile campaign to oust Ted’s son, Representative Patrick J. Kennedy.

A Providence Journal headline in the wake of the Massachusetts earthquake had Loughlin moving to “tap” the “same anger” that Brown unearthed. Radio and television are pushing a similar line.

And a WPRI-TV poll released last week suggests the incumbent is vulnerable: 42 percent of first district voters give Kennedy a favorable rating to 56 percent who give him poor marks. While 35 percent say they will vote for Kennedy, 28 percent say they will vote against, and 31 percent are willing to consider an alternative.

Loughlin, of course, has done little to play down the comparisons to Brown. And there are some striking parallels between the pols. Both achieved the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Army National Guard. Both were obscure state legislators when they hopped into Congressional politics. Both are possessed of a certain charm.

Loughlin has brought on Brown’s campaign consultants. And he even has a well-worn pick-up of his own — though it seems destined to remain garaged come fall. “It’s kind of been done,” says Loughlin. “I’m thinking a unicycle.”…

…Who is John J. Loughlin II, Republican of Tiverton? And does he have a real shot at capturing the last redoubt of a once-sprawling Kennedy empire?…

The article continues at The Phoenix.

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