SENATE RACE

Joe Kennedy's Chavez Connection

As Joseph Kennedy vies for Ted Kennedy's vacated Senate seat, his ties with Hugo Chavez of Venezuela may prove to be a liability. Chavez, who is always looking for an opportunity to stick a thumb in the eye of the Americans, has donated nearly all the oil used in Kennedy's nonprofit Citizens’ 877-JOE-4-OIL, which helps heat poor homes. Chavez, in turn, has been able to highlight his generosity on his TV show. Kennedy has run the nonprofit since 2005, which quickly ballooned from a local operation to a national one. Some observers foresee Kennedy's competitors pressing hard on his connection with such an outspoken critic of the U.S. Chavez himself remains mum on the subject…so far.