By Darryl R. Isherwood | February 15th, 2013 - 4:36pm
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Former Congressman Patrick Kennedy formally ruled out a 2014 run for office today, less than two hours after high-level Democrats said they planned to court the former lawmaker from Rhode Island  for a U.S. Senate run.

"I can rule out a 2014 run," said Kennedy when reached by phone Friday. 

Kennedy, who lives in Brigantine, said his attention now is focused on two things, the implementation of the mental health parity bill he introduced and helped pass while a member of Congress and the Special Olympics, which he described as the Kennedy family's greatest legacy.

"I'm not in it right now but as I said if in the future sometime I think I could better serve this cause by throwing my hat back in the political ring down the road I know how to run elections and I know how to win elections," he said.

Kennedy said while he won't run in the race he does plan to participate, particularly if U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone is a candidate.  Kennedy said he would endorse Pallone and campaign on his behalf.

"Frank Pallone is not only a good friend, he was a great colleague and he fights for the kinds of things my family has fought for," Kennedy said.  "I look forward to going out there and telling that story and letting people know how hard Frank has fought for issues that matter to people with a social conscience."

Earlier today, sources said high-level state Democrats were preparing to reach out to Kennedy in hopes of convincing him to jump into the Senate race that will no doubt include Newark Mayor Cory Booker and potentially several other candidates.

"If a Kennedy is interested in running for office in New Jersey, it would be crazy not to reach out to him and see where it goes," said a Democratic source familiar with the plans.

Kennedy, who spent eight terms in the House of Representatives representing Rhode Island, said politics are in his blood and he got a world-class education growing up in the Kennedy family so he has not ruled out a future political run, but it won't be in 2014.

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