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Kennedy and pups vote

US Senator Edward M. Kennedy with his dog, Splash, at the Barnstable Town Hall today.
US Senator Edward M. Kennedy with his dog, Splash, at the Barnstable Town Hall today. (Globe Staff Photo / Janet Knott)

HYANNIS --US Senator Edward M. Kennedy’s ebony-haired Portuguese water dogs bounded from his minivan this morning the moment he arrived to vote at Barnstable Town Hall.

"Get back in the car! Get back in the car!" Kennedy shouted as his dogs, Splash and Sunny, raced across a lawn toward about 10 supporters who were waiting for the senator with his blue campaign signs. "We’ve got to get a different pedigree of dog."

Kennedy has been on the ballot for US Senate nine times since winning a special election in 1962. He is expected to cruise to victory again today, and win his eighth full term against Kenneth G. Chase, a little-known Republican from Belmont.

Accompanied by his wife, Vicki, Kennedy seemed to relish the tradition of voting here in his hometown -- and so did the poll workers and voters who have stood by him for decades.

He walked slowly up the granite stairs into the four-story brick town hall, past a nautical painting of a storm-tossed ship, and into the arms of Regina Kennedy, 81, a poll worker, who was waiting inside to give the senator a hug.

"Same name, no relation," she explained. "We’re just good friends."

Kennedy spent a few moments filling out his ballot before handing it to Steven Blume, 71, who knew Kennedy’s address without consulting his street list.

"Marchant Avenue," Blume said proudly.

"How did you know that?" Kennedy asked.

"Gee, I don’t know," Blume said with a touch of sarcasm.

Dorothy Nykiel, a voter, was waiting for Kennedy as he left town hall.

"Good luck, senator," she said.

"Thank you," he said, and shook her hand.

Kennedy was modest about what should be an easy election and said, "I’m keeping my fingers crossed." Asked if he would run again in six years, he said, "I’m going to stay in until I get the hang of it."

His supporters here said they couldn’t imagine not seeing his name on the ballot.

"I always vote for Senator Kennedy," said one the senator’s stalwart supporters, Annette DeQuattro, 81. "I don’t know if it’s because I’m so used to seeing him around, but I like the guy."

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