A fabled political dynasty sputtered with last night's passing of Sen. Ted Kennedy, who left no heir apparent in the powerhouse family. Though several younger generation Kennedys are active in civic life, none packs the punch of the senator or his famous brothers. "There seems to be no one to pick up the torch," said Thomas Whalen, Kennedy expert and political science professor at Boston University. "There doesn't seem to be someone in the next generation to carry the load here."
Kennedy died just weeks after his sister, Special Olympics founder Eunice Kennedy Shriver, passed away, and was the last survivor of the four Kennedy brothers, two of whom were assassinated. Camelot watchers focused attention on JFK Jr. until his plane-crash death in '99, and hopes for sister Caroline faded when she bombed out in her tepid bid for Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Kennedy's seat could be inherited by his nephew, Joseph, a former Massachusetts congressman. Kennedy's son, Patrick, is a congressman in Rhode Island.