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Joe Kennedy would face Chavez questions

BOSTON, Sept. 6 (UPI) -- Joseph Kennedy must deflect criticism over oil donations given to his charity by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez if he is to run for U.S. Senate, analysts say.

Kennedy, a former member of the U.S. House from Massachusetts, is considering running for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by his late uncle, Edward Kennedy, who died last month. To win, he'll need to overcome his relationship with Chavez, who in the past two years has donated 83 million gallons of crude oil for Citizens Energy Corp., a non-profit founded by Kennedy in 1979, The Boston Globe reported Sunday.

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"I don't think you're going to persuade the public that Citizens Energy and delivering free oil to people who can't afford it is a bad thing," William Weld, a Republican and a former governor of Massachusetts, told the Globe. "I really don't think that's going to stick. (Kennedy's) not loony left at all, and I think he could be very good in office.''

However, Eric Fehrnstrom, a Republican political consultant and adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, said the issue could be a problem for Kennedy.

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"If Joe were to become a candidate, he would have to answer some very uncomfortable questions about his personal and business relationships with Hugo Chavez," Fehrnstrom said.

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