Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey

Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyOcasio-Cortez taps supporters for donations as former primary opponent pitches for Kennedy The 13 House Democrats who back Kavanaugh's impeachment Rep. Joe Kennedy has history on his side in Senate bid MORE III (D-Mass.) announced on Saturday that he would mount a primary challenge to Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens MORE (D-Mass.) in 2020.

The move tees up a generational showdown between a member of Massachusetts’s most famous political dynasty and a progressive heavyweight with more than four decades of experience in Washington.

"This isn't a time for waiting, for sitting on the sidelines, or for playing by rules that don't work anymore. This is the fight of our lives, the fight of my generation — and I'm all in," Kennedy tweeted Saturday.

Kennedy’s announcement came ahead of a formal campaign launch event in East Boston later in the day. He’s then slated to embark on a three-day tour across Massachusetts to pitch his candidacy.

In some ways, the primary resembles nominating contests in 2018 that saw younger Democrats edge out veteran lawmakers. At 38, Kennedy is poised to pitch his candidacy as an opportunity for generational change in Washington.

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“We deserve leaders who show up where we are, who aren’t afraid to break down an old system and build something better," Kennedy said in a video announcing his Senate bid Saturday.

But unlike primary contests in 2018, both Markey, 73, and Kennedy are reliable progressives with a similar set of allies on Capitol Hill. And Kennedy isn’t a political neophyte. He’s served in the House since 2013 and has the weight of the Kennedy family name behind him.

Kennedy has become something of a rising star in the Democratic Party in recent years. He was chosen to deliver the Democratic response to President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff MORE’s State of the Union address in 2018. And he comes from a long line of Democratic politicians and public servants.

His grandfather, Robert Kennedy, served as U.S. attorney general under his great uncle, former President Kennedy, and represented New York in the Senate from 1965 until his death at the hands of an assassin in 1968. 

Kennedy’s father, Joseph Kennedy, served six terms in the House. 

Markey, who was first elected to the House in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 2013, has already said he intends to seek reelection in 2020.

Kennedy starts his Senate bid with an early lead in the polls. A survey from Suffolk University and The Boston Globe released earlier this month showed him leading Markey by 9 points in a five-way contest. When respondents were given a choice between just Kennedy and Markey, the congressman’s lead jumped to 14 points.

But Markey has already won some influential endorsements, including that of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez, Thunberg, Rapinoe make BBC's 100 most inspiring women of 2019 Former Nebraska Sen. Bob Kerrey endorses Biden Democratic strategist on Sanders debate performance: 'I just think he might've topped out' MORE (D-N.Y.), the first-term progressive congresswoman who stunned the political world last year when she defeated longtime incumbent Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a primary. She is also the House sponsor of the senator’s Green New Deal legislation.

Also backing Markey is Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg tweeted support for 'Medicare for All' in 2018 Overnight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Hillicon Valley: FCC approves T-Mobile-Sprint merger | Dems wrangle over breaking up Big Tech at debate | Critics pounce as Facebook's Libra stumbles | Zuckerberg to be interviewed by Fox News | Twitter details rules for political figures' tweets MORE (D-Mass.), the ascendant Democratic presidential hopeful who endorsed her colleague months ago before Kennedy’s Senate ambitions became public. She reiterated her support last month.

“We need Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOvernight Defense — Presented by Boeing — House passes resolution rebuking Trump over Syria | Sparks fly at White House meeting on Syria | Dems say Trump called Pelosi a 'third-rate politician' | Trump, Graham trade jabs Senate confirms Trump's Air Force secretary pick Democratic senators condemn Trump for calling on China to investigate Bidens MORE in the Senate now more than ever, and here’s why: Because he’s a leader. He’s a fighter. And he is a true progressive,” Warren said in a video released by Markey’s campaign. “Ed is my friend and my partner in the Senate. I’ve got his back, and I know that he will always have yours. Let’s get Ed Markey reelected to the Senate.”

Updated: 9:54 a.m.