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Kennedy: Markey is 'weaponizing' my family's history

Rep. Joe KennedyJoseph (Joe) Patrick KennedySupreme Court confounding its partisan critics Warren says she'll run for reelection to Senate Five centrist Democrats oppose Pelosi for Speaker in tight vote MORE III (D-Mass.) on Monday accused Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyClimate progressives launch first action against Biden amid growing frustration Senate Democrats urge Google to conduct racial equity audit Senate climate advocates start digging in on infrastructure goals MORE (D-Mass.) of "weaponizing" his family's history in the state's heavily contested Democratic Senate primary as the incumbent senator makes references to the Kennedy family on the campaign trail. 

"I’m here today to talk about my family. Which is something most of you know I don’t do very often," Kennedy told reporters in a press conference on Monday morning. "But Sen. Markey seems intent on making them an issue in this race." 

"In our debates, on his social media platforms, in his fundraising emails and campaign ads," the congressman continued. "Questioning their integrity. Weaponizing their history. Appropriating their words." 

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Kennedy went on to say Markey's time would be better spent reconciling his own record on the civil rights movement in the past, hitting him on a number of fronts, including for opposing busing to desegregate Boston public schools in the 1970s. 

The congressman, who is the grandson of the former attorney general and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D) and the son of former Rep. Joe Kennedy II (D-Mass.), went on to tout the achievements of his famous family, including his grandfather's involvement in the civil rights movement. 

"I am a 39-year-old white man of tremendous privilege. My own work on racial justice is wholly incomplete," Kennedy said. "But this fight is in my blood. It’s what my family taught me is right, what my faith teaches me is just, and what the country that I believe in was founded to be. However imperfectly."

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Markey has scaled up his attacks on the congressman as the race heats up ahead of the Sept. 1 primary. 

The senator's campaign released an ad last week touting his own record and using a famous quote from Kennedy's great uncle, former President John F. Kennedy. 

“We asked what we could do for our country. We went out, we did it,” Markey said in the ad, referencing President Kennedy’s quote. “With all due respect it's time to start asking what your country can do for you.”

Markey also invoked Kennedy's family to his face as their most recent primary debate last week, citing news reports and asking if Kennedy's father was funding a super PAC in his favor. 

"Is your father funding that super PAC that is attacking me right now?” Markey said during the heated exchange.

“No clue. No idea,” Kennedy replied. 

“I’m sure your father is watching right now,” Markey said. “Tell your father right now that you don’t want money to go into a super PAC that runs negative ads.”

The senator has sought to contrast himself with the congressman, touting what he calls his humble roots as "the son of a milkman."

Kennedy has led in a number of polls since announcing his candidacy late last year, thought the race has tightened weeks out from primary day. 

The RealClearPolitics polling average of the race shows the two men tied at 44.8 percent.