WASHINGTON - Politics is proving stronger than bloodlines for prominent Democrats in the Kennedy clan.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy of Rhode Island, related by marriage to actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, are politely declining to support the Republican in his bid to become governor of California.
Gray Davis has put the Austrian immigrant's extended family in an "obviously awkward position," said Ernesto Anguilla, spokesman for Patrick Kennedy, whose cousin, Maria Shriver, is married to the actor, who has starred in The Terminator films about a violence-prone robot.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, an influential seventh-term legislator and the patriarch of the Kennedy clan, also made clear last week that his politics come before the ambitions of a Republican relative.
"'I like and respect Arnold, and I've been impressed with his efforts to promote after-school education in California and his willingness to come to Congress and the administration to fight for that program," Kennedy said. "But I'm a Democrat, and I don't support the recall effort."
Maria Shriver, Edward Kennedy's niece, is the daughter of Eunice and Sargent Shriver. She is taking a leave of absence from her job as an NBC correspondent and contributing anchor for the network's newsmagazine Dateline NBC.
Schwarzenegger acknowledged last week that marrying into a political dynasty has influenced him.
" I think when you marry into a family like that, you learn a lot," Schwarzenegger said. "You have to understand that the entire family has dedicated their lives to service ... but I have always been fiscally conservative."
Dan Glickman, director of the Institute of Politics at the Kennedy School of Government, of which Edward Kennedy is chairman of the board, said the family has a lot of respect for Schwarzenegger.
"But you're not going to find Senator Kennedy's name on a list of political supporters for Arnold," Glickman said.
Kennedy family biographer Laurence Leamer - who has a book titled Sons of Camelot: The Fate of an American Dynasty coming out next year - said it would be a mistake to view the situation as a family feud.
"How could they possibly, as Democrats, openly support him?" Leamer said. "These are very partisan Democrats. They are about as Democratic as Dublin is Catholic."