I've looked into the female mind and it's a frightening and terrifying place. - Humble Master
Question #37897 posted on 07/23/2007 3:01 a.m.

Dear 100 Hour Board,

I remember many years ago reading a short biography contained in Reader's Digest on Joseph P. Kennedy. In the biography it stated that Joe Kennedy helped "fix" one of his son John's early elections by hiring a man with the same name as John's main competitor to add his name to the ballot to confuse voters. Did I remember this story correctly? If so, could you give me a good reference for this story.

- Steppenwolf

A: Lieber Steppenwolf,

From Y Ted K:
- Jack's opponent in the primary election [for the Massachusetts 11th Congressional District in 1946] was a legitimate politician named Joe Russo. To insure that Jack won the primary campaign, Joe Kennedy paid Joseph Russo, a janitor, to also enter the race. This effectively confused the voters, and split the votes for Joe Russo.
- Russo the janitor recalled how Joe's friend Joseph Timilty and another man had visited him one day and asked him to run. In return, Russo said, "They offered me favors. Whatever I wanted." In fact, he said later, he wound up getting very little - occasional payments of $50 in cash.
- Even the aunt of the real candidate voted for the janitor, recalled Joseph A Russo, the real candidate's son. "They didn't leave anything unturned," he said. His father claimed that Kennedy's people had also arranged for other bogus candidates to "run in other areas to break up the Irish vote, or some other vote. They played for keeps."
You can view the results of the election, including the votes split between both Joe Russos here, at the website of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum.

If you're looking for a print source, the story is related on page 232 of Laurence Leamer's The Kennedy Men: 1901-1963 and on page 93 of John Aloysius Farrell's Tip O'Neill and the Democratic Century.

- Katya