Rep. Patrick Kennedy, the 42-year-old son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, has decided not to seek re-election for his seat representing Rhode Island in Congress. Kennedy's term ends early next year but he says in a television message viewed by the AP that his life is "taking a new direction." The decision by the eight-term congressman comes less than a month after a stunning Republican upset in the race for the Massachusetts Senate seat his father held, and leaves Washington without a Kennedy in political office for the first time in more than 60 years.
Patrick Kennedy has been in and out of treatment for substance abuse since crashing his car outside the Capitol in 2006. Still, he has been comfortably re-elected twice since then, after making mental health care his signature issue in Washington, and was favored to win again. Kennedy plans to air the two-minute announcement of his decision on Rhode Island TV stations on Sunday night. In the ad he says he remains committed to public service, and he thanks Rhode Island voters for supporting him through ups and downs.