Ted Kennedy ‘s first N.J. campaign: Dick Hughes in 1961

Ted Kennedy’s first political trip to New Jersey was on September 18, 1961, when he traveled to Camden County to stump for the Democratic candidate for Governor, Richard Hughes. Kennedy was serving as the Assistant Suffolk County District Attorney in the days when New Jersey Democrats didn’t fervently object to prosecutors talking politics.

His appearance at a press conference and fundraising dinner that attracted a reported 1,500 people at the Latin Casino, once a top night club in Cherry Hill. It came one year before he sought a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. Hughes won that race against Republican James Mitchell, who had been U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Eisenhower administration.

The brother of the popular president was, according to an old-time South Jersey politician who was at the event, was overshadowed by another guest, U.S. Sen. Hubert Humphrey (D-Minnesota). Humphrey said the Hughes vs. Mitchell contest was to be a referendum on John F. Kennedy. “The Republicans want to make this election a national issue – a laboratory experiment of national elections. Let’s not disappoint them. Let’s put on our armor. The only thing they understand is defeat.”

Ted Kennedy ‘s first N.J. campaign: Dick Hughes in 1961