Sen. Ed Markey (D) defeated Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D) in the Massachusetts Senate primary on Tuesday, overcoming a high-profile challenge that drew the attention of the national media as well as some of the biggest players in Democratic politics.

“Tonight is more than just a celebration of a movement. It is a real reaffirmation of the need to have a movement, a progressive movement of young people demanding radical change, demanding justice,” Markey told a group of supporters in his hometown of Malden, Mass. 

Markey homed in on his agenda to combat climate change and pass the Green New Deal before turning his attention to the general election effort against President Trump. 

“This is a matter of life and death. The very future of our civilization depends on it,” Markey said. “We must pass a Green New Deal.” 

“Priority No. 1 is to move Donald Trump from the White House,” he said. “We must banish his agenda of division and destruction to the history books.” 

His primary win paves the way for his expected reelection in November against Republican Kevin O’Connor. 

Kennedy called Markey to concede on Tuesday evening before addressing supporters and press outside of his campaign headquarters in Watertown, Mass. 

“No matter the results tonight, I would do this again with all of you in a heartbeat,” Kennedy said. “We may have lost the final vote tonight, but we have built a coalition that will endure.”

The 74-year-old Markey campaigned heavily on his progressive record, particularly regarding environmental issues, citing his co-authorship of the Green New Deal with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who endorsed him over Kennedy.

The senator’s campaign slogan read, “It’s not your age — it’s the age of your ideas that’s important.”

The incumbent senator also boasted support from prominent progressive groups such as the Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution as well as left-wing congressional candidates Jamaal Bowman and Cori Bush.

Kennedy, 39, criticized Markey for not being present enough in Massachusetts during his tenure in the Senate, arguing that new blood was needed in the upper chamber.

Kennedy started out with a double-digit lead in the polls when he announced he was challenging Markey last year. However, despite the public backing of Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) and other high-profile members of the House, his lead evaporated in the final weeks of the campaign, with the RealClearPolitics polling average showing Markey with an 11.2-point lead.

The election marks the first time a member of the Kennedy political dynasty has lost a statewide election in Massachusetts.

The race had turned personal over the past month after the Kennedy family name was drawn into the battle. In one instance, Markey referenced former President Kennedy’s famous 1961 inaugural address in a widely seen advertisement.

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

Markey did not directly address his primary opponent in the spot.

Joe Kennedy quickly hit back, accusing the senator of “weaponizing” his family’s history.

“I didn’t [bring my family into the race],” Kennedy told The Hill last week. “The senator did.”

The congressman’s campaign sounded the alarm over online harassment against his family and supporters. 

Kennedy’s campaign manager, Nick Clemons, penned an email to Markey’s campaign manager, John Walsh, in which he demanded that Markey publicly end attacks, though he said he did not believe the harassment was coming from anyone on the Markey campaign’s payroll. Clemons copied members of the press and included screenshots of the harassment that showed graphic references to the assassinations of former President Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy.

Walsh hit back, saying Markey had condemned the attacks multiple times and that Clemons was “choosing to end the campaign with crocodile tears.” 

Tags Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Donald Trump Ed Markey Joe Kennedy Nancy Pelosi
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