* Joseph Kennedy won’t seek uncle’s Senate seat
* Ted Kennedy’s death took Democrats’ 60th Senate vote (adds details, background)
By Svea Herbst-Bayliss
BOSTON, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Joseph P. Kennedy II said on Monday he would not seek his late uncle Edward Kennedy’s U.S. Senate seat, which has been held by America’s preeminent political family for almost six decades.
Edward Kennedy’s death last month deprived Democrats of a 60th vote in the 100-seat Senate, which could be critical to any effort to overcome Republican procedural roadblocks to the massive healthcare overhaul urged by President Barack Obama.
Joseph Kennedy, 56, the oldest son of assassinated Senator Robert F. Kennedy, previously served in the U.S. Congress from Massachusetts and now runs Citizens Energy, a non-profit company that provides heating oil to low-income families.
“After much consideration, I have decided that the best way for me to contribute to those causes is by continuing my work at Citizens Energy Corporation,” he said in a statement on the group’s website.
Edward Kennedy spent 47 years in the U.S. Senate. He died on Aug. 25 of brain cancer at age 77.
Massachusetts will elect his successor in a special election on Jan. 19 after a primary vote on Dec. 8.
Heeding a plea made by the dying Kennedy, Democratic Governor Deval Patrick has said he will work with the state legislature to try and change state law so he can name a temporary successor before the election.
The late President John F. Kennedy, another of Joseph Kennedy’s uncles, held the U.S. Senate seat from 1953 to 1960. Edward Kennedy won the seat in 1962, two years after his brother won the presidency.
Joseph Kennedy, a Democrat, spoke at his uncle’s memorial service, where he called on his generation to heed the elder Kennedy’s call for public service. He represented Massachusetts in Congress between 1987 and 1999.
State Attorney General Martha Coakley has said she is seeking the open Senate seat, and several other members of Congress are expected to do so as well.
Some Kennedy loyalists had said they would stay out of the race if a member of the family decided to run.
Among those reported to be considering a run on the Republican side is former Massachusetts governor and failed U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. (Editing by Claudia Parsons and Paul Simao)