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Wednesday, 6 November, 2002, 14:11 GMT
The Kennedy that failed
Bill Clinton joins Kathleen Kennedy Townsend at a campaign event
Ms Townsend rolled out the political big guns
Kathleen Kennedy Townsend probably woke up the morning after the US mid-terms with serious post-election blues.

She is one of the very few members of the mythic Kennedy clan to have failed in her political ambitions.

On 5 November, Republican Robert Ehrlich romped to a surprising victory against Mrs Townsend in the race to become governor of Maryland.

He is the first Republican to occupy the governor's mansion in Maryland in more than 30 years.

Robert Ehrlich, jokes with supporters in his hotel suite while awaiting election returns
Robert Ehrlich won the most expensive race for governor in Maryland's history
On his way he dashed Mrs Townsend's hopes of making history. The daughter of Democratic icon Robert Kennedy and niece of assassinated President John F Kennedy aimed to become the first female governor in Maryland's history.

She is the first female politician to have emerged from that dynasty.

In its late stages, the Maryland race became one of the most competitive governor's races in the country.

Tainted

It was also the most expensive governor's race in Maryland's history.

Mrs Townsend spent some $9m, her rival $11m. Both spent most of the cash on a series of TV advertisements highlighting why they thought their opponents were not up to the job.

Mr Ehrlich believed Mrs Townsend had been tainted by her role as lieutenant to Paris Glendening, who has served the maximum amount of terms.

The duo was blamed for overspending and creating a projected shortfall of more than $1.7bn.

Kathleen Kennedy Townsend conceded defeat
Some question whether Mrs Townsend has the Kennedy zest for politics
Mrs Townsend, for her part, tried to paint her rival as a right-wing zealot who would try to roll back Maryland's strict gun restrictions.

She even branded him as the National Rifle Association's (NRA) candidate for governor.

This came as a serial sniper was roaming the Washington area, including Maryland, prompting an accusation from Mr Ehrlich that Mrs Townsend was trying to use the tragedy for her own political gain.

Analysts originally predicted that the 51-year-old lieutenant governor would be victorious on election night - that the people of Maryland would embrace a Kennedy with open arms.

To help churn up enthusiasm Mrs Townsend brought out members of her famous family at campaign gatherings. She also enlisted help from Bill Clinton and Al Gore, who took to the podium at key events.

Verbal gaffes

But, in the end, many people thought she had run a poor campaign, including alienating black voters with her choice of a white former Republican as running mate.

In contrast, Mr Ehrlich's running mate, Michael Steele, became the first black elected to state-wide office in Maryland's history.

Described by some recent news reports as the "anti-Kennedy" and the "unsexy Kennedy", Mrs Townsend has been criticised as an inexperienced politician.

She has portrayed as awkward, uninspiring and prone to the kind of verbal gaffes that can haunt a politician.

At a key recent key campaign even, Mrs Townsend forgot the name of the university she was appearing at and tried to recover by recalling a previous gaffe.

"I'm so sorry, but I could never tell the difference between a touchdown and a football," she said - a reference to the time she said the Baltimore Ravens had scored a football.

Another time, she referred to workers who could speak Hispanish.

Such gaffes fuelled the perception that she got flustered in front of the cameras.

She was often seen as too philosophical. The central theme of her campaign was the confusing notion that every person has an "indispensable destiny", and her pledge to ensure every Marylander reached it.

Her blueprint for governing Maryland was said to have contained no broad initiatives, just incremental improvements for dozens of state programmes.

Mrs Townsend has encountered rejection before.

In 1986, she became the first Kennedy to lose a general election with her failed bid for a House seat in an overwhelmingly Republican district in Maryland.

A recent report in the Washington Post pointed out that many had questioned whether Mrs Townsend had her family's "legendary zest for a rough-and-tumble political fight".

But she could bounce back after her most recent defeat and prove them wrong.


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Results Latest: 13:58 GMT
House:
206 seats 227 seats 2 seats
Senate:
49 seats 51 seats 1 seats
Seats: House/Senate
Democrats: 206 / 49
Republicans: 227 / 51
Independents: 2 / 1
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