Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) announced on Saturday that he would mount a primary challenge to Sen. Edward Markey (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.{mosads}

“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 Trump’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-Cortez (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 Warren (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 Markey 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.

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Donald Trump Ed Markey Edward Markey Elizabeth Warren Joe Kennedy

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