Metro

Jack E. Robinson, frequent GOP candidate, found dead in Duxbury

Jack E. Robinson III ran against Edward M. Kennedy for US Senate in 2000.
Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff/File
Jack E. Robinson III ran against Edward M. Kennedy for US Senate in 2000.

Jack E. Robinson III, whose persistent and often colorful quests for major elective offices frequently created distress for Massachusetts Republicans, was found dead in his Duxbury home late Monday.

Police said they were asked to check the family house on Flint Rock Drive, where Robinson lived alone, and discovered his body around 7:30 p.m. The medical examiner is conducting an autopsy.

His lifelong friend, Kim Bullock, said she had talked to Robinson, who was 57, several days before he died and that he seemed healthy, other than “a little cough and upper chest infection.” She said foul play is not suspected.

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“This was very, very unexpected,’’ said Bullock, who grew up with Robinson in Roxbury. “But he had not been active in the last few days.”

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She said she did not know who made the call to the police to check on Robinson.

Robinson, who attended a western Massachusetts preparatory school, graduated from Brown University and received law and business degrees from Harvard. He made a huge profit in the sale of a cellphone company in the Caribbean in the late 1990s. More recently he has practiced law in Norwalk, Conn., and in Duxbury.

 Robinson’s political roots run deep in the state GOP. He was the son of Jack Robinson, an active Republican and a former president of the Boston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). The elder Robinson studied at Boston University with Martin Luther King Jr. and was a close political associate of the late US Senator Edward Brooke, the state’s only elected black senator.

The younger Robinson first appeared on the political scene in 2000, when the party turned to him to take the place of then-Plymouth County District Attorney Michael Sullivan, who had been planning to be the GOP’s candidate to oppose US Senator Edward M. Kennedy but suddenly decided to back out of the race.

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But, Robinson’s candidacy never became serious following reports about issues in his private life — an ex-girlfriend charged he sexually assaulted her; he had an arrest for drunk driving; and he was found in possession of a martial arts weapon. The charges had been dropped, but his candidacy never recovered.

His candidacy sunk further when, as the stories about his private life swirled, he got into an automobile accident while conducting a radio interview on his cellphone. Governor Paul Cellucci, whose aides persuaded him to take Sullivan’s place on the ticket, withdrew his endorsement. He got only 12 percent of the vote against Kennedy.

He resurfaced in 2002 as the only candidate to seek the GOP nomination for Massachusetts secretary of state. But the party’s gubernatorial candidate Mitt Romney shunned Robinson. And again he was plagued with bad news stories, particularly around his failure to pay the bills for his 49-foot yacht — a French-built Beneteau 50.

He got only 26 percent of the vote against incumbent Democrat William F. Galvin.

Still he kept on trying to get back into political life. Robinson ran and lost as a GOP candidate for Congress in 2006 and then tried to run for US Senate in a special 2013 election, but failed to make the ballot

Frank Phillips can be reached at frank.phillips@globe.com.