When they discovered their old boss had died, about 100 former Kennedy staffers headed to Boston to help with the funeral. “We are a family,” says one former communications adviser. They have also been a formidable political asset, both to the senator and the Democratic Party, the Washington Post reports. For decades, Kennedy’s staff has been the envy of Capitol Hill, the legendary lawmaker attracting the brightest, most ambitious up-and-coming Democrats.
Kennedy’s former staffers are peppered throughout Washington’s power structure. Stephen Breyer was once his chief counsel, and John Kerry got his start volunteering for Kennedy’s first Senate campaign. “Teddy’s staff was the farm system for the Democratic Party for a generation,’ says Kerry. He was a magnet for brilliant, creative, progressive minds and hard-charging, hard-nosed operatives." Throughout his illness, his staff continued to work intensively on health care reform, and many say they’re determined to carry on that fight.