Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey

Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedyAyanna Pressley's 'squad' of congresswomen offers support after she opens up about alopecia Lawmakers press Trump officials to change federal marijuana rules Trump and Pelosi clash over Iran, impeachment MORE III (D-Mass.) announced on Saturday that he would mount a primary challenge to Sen. Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial 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.


“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 TrumpTrump says US has coronavirus 'totally under control' Senate Republicans muscle through rules for Trump trial Collins breaks with GOP on attempt to change impeachment rules resolution 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-CortezHillary Clinton responds to backlash: 'I will do whatever I can to support our nominee' Klobuchar dismisses White House lawyer's jab about Democrats wanting to be in Iowa The Hill's 12:30 Report: Rules fight sets stage for first day of Trump trial 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 WarrenSanders holds four-point lead on Biden in new California poll Sanders, Biden campaigns ramp up attacks over Social Security Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti: NYT dual endorsement could hurt Warren, Klobuchar 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 MarkeyParnas pressure grows on Senate GOP Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial 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.