Yet, after repeated requests, Kennedy took a look and saw that despite 44 years in the US House and Senate, Markey was not loved in the state. So the four-term congressman announced a Senate bid in fall 2019 focused on “social and economic justice,” offering a generational shift.
“I believe we are at a pivotal moment in our country for the Democratic Party, for our future,” Kennedy, 39, told CNN this week. “I think a US Senator can do something about this. And I think Senator Markey did not give us enough. ”
A Kennedy never lost Massachusetts. But the alleged heir to the family dynasty of the Democratic Party may have made a risky bet. Markey, 74, countered the brilliance of the Kennedy name by projecting the power of some of the party’s stars, including Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Republic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who raised funds for the senator.
The race has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks as postal voting began and people started paying attention ahead of the September 1 primaries. Markey hammered Kennedy for not explaining a reason for running. Kennedy responded that he would be a better senator, hitting Markey for spending less time at his home in Massachusetts than any other member of the state’s congressional delegation, based on a Boston Globe analysis, even when Warren ran for president.
The two Democrats, who do not strongly disagree on the policy, stepped up personal attacks during a televised debate this week. Markey urged Kennedy to join an academic fraternity, whose “spiritual founder” was Confederate General Robert E. Lee. (Kennedy says he chose to disaffiliate last year.) Kennedy has repeatedly noted that a family accused Markey of doing little when their black son, DJ Henry, was shot dead by a white policeman 10 years ago. (Markey told CNN he apologized to the family, adding, “Now we should focus on moving forward to get justice” for them.)
Markey urged Kennedy to ask his father, former Rep. Joe Kennedy and his twin brother to remove attack ads from a super PAC; Kennedy retorted that some Markey supporters said Lee Harvey Oswald “got the Kennedy wrong.” Markey told CNN such comments are “objectionable,” calling those who say them “not to be my supporters.”
Old versus new?
His supporters say Markey deserves another six-year term based on his voting record and point to his co-author of the Green New Deal and his previous support of “Medicare for All” as signs that he is in. time.
“When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that matters, it’s the age of your ideas,” Ocasio-Cortez said in an ad. “And Ed Markey is the leader we need. ”
But Kennedy argued he would be a different kind of senator, who would travel across the country and the state to elect Democrats, as he did in 2018 to help the party recapture the House.
“He didn’t go anywhere,” Kennedy told CNN of Markey.
Supporters of Markey say his political prowess is underestimated and tout his dedication to Malden, where the senator grew up as the son of a milkman. Izzy Klein, a former aide to Markey, said that “most of what we did” during the George W. Bush administration was a campaign for Democrats to win the House and the White House. “The idea that he somehow sidestepped his responsibility to help other Democrats win is right – it couldn’t be further from the truth,” Klein said. “It’s just outrageous. ”
Stephen Tocco, one of Markey’s early collaborators, called him a “diligent activist” who wore the heels of his shoes to “next to nothing” during his first congressional run in 1976. When they went to the cobbler to get them fixed, Tocco recalled, Markey asked him to enter the store because he didn’t have another pair and had holes in his socks.
This year, this type of campaign was limited by the coronavirus pandemic. But the race has always been an intense battle for voters.
Before Kennedy even entered the race, Markey locked up many endorsements from top Democratic state officials. Annissa Essaibi-George, a city councilor for the city of Boston, said Markey “has certainly demonstrated a deeper commitment” to “progressive values” on issues like the environment and health care. She also praised her work on expanding Internet access and promoting the risk premium for essential workers and free public transportation.
Kennedy’s grandfather is the late Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; his great uncles are former President John F. Kennedy and the late Senator Ted Kennedy. But his campaign was not based solely on his famous last name. He has been calling for votes statewide and has been pushing since March for a plan to give $ 4,000 to every adult who earns less than $ 100,000 a year during the coronavirus crisis and $ 1,000 for every child. John Brissette, a Democratic official from Worcester, said Kennedy was in his hometown much more than Markey. He’s been a Kennedys fan in the past and is supporting the Congressman for the Senate this year because, he said, “Joe is showing up.”
But it is clear that the work of previous generations benefits his candidacy.
Gerly Adrien, who won his first race for Everett’s general counsel in 2019, recalled how the two Senate candidates sought his support. She was impressed with Kennedy’s understanding of racial justice in one of their conversations, including his ability to cite the death rate of black mothers. Yet Adrien was undecided until she called his mother, who told her daughter that their family had received oil from a non-profit organization started by Kennedy’s father for low-income families. returned. Adrien decided to support it that day.
“I think when it comes to racial equity, fighting for the issues on the ground that interest my residents, I saw that Joe Kennedy was going to be that person,” Adrien said.
Sparring on Markey’s record
While there is little difference in their current political positions, Markey and Kennedy fought over the senator’s long record in office.
Markey suggested Kennedy was a legislative light-weight, while claiming he had drafted more than 500 laws providing affordable internet access to schools and libraries, raising fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, collecting billions of dollars for research into Alzheimer’s disease and even deterring robocalls. He said he had been leading political revolutions since at least the 1980s when he introduced the nuclear freeze resolution and nearly a million people gathered in Central Park in New York City to demand an end to the nuclear arms race.
“I stand up,” Markey told CNN. “I am creating the movements necessary to solve these huge problems. ”
“At this point, I don’t think there is much evidence that my opponent has provided that kind of historic leadership on the big issues that pose threats to the people of our country,” he added.
Kennedy tried to dig holes in Markey’s record, raising the senator’s long-standing opposition to abortion rights and working to achieve racial integration in public schools, as well as a number votes for bills progressives hate today: the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993, the Crime Bill of 1994, the Patriot Act in 2001 and the Authorization to Use military force against Iraq in 2002. He says Markey’s signature bill, the Telecommunications Act of 1996, has a much more mixed record than the senator suggests. , alleging that this resulted in a loss of competition and jobs even in Malden. And he hits out at Markey for being the only member of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in 2013 to vote for a bill that called for an increase in the bed quota for detained immigrants, which critics say puts more behind the bars for no reason.
Markey’s campaign responded that the attacks are a sign of an increasingly desperate campaign and a misrepresentation of its record.
Despite being heavily spent on advertising by the Kennedy campaign and a pro-Kennedy super PAC, the Markey campaign claimed it had momentum. He slightly overestimated Kennedy in the last financial quarter, telling CNN he earned more than a fifth of his three-month total on the last day, June 30.
If there had been a time when Markey was in despair, it was over a year ago, when Kennedy announced he would run against him. When asked if he had ever considered retiring, as some in political circles wondered, Markey was provocative, pointing to the lessons he learned from his father and the home he grew up in, where he still lives. today.
“I think anyone who speculated that I wasn’t going to be in this race didn’t understand me, neither my dad, nor the house I grew up in,” said Markey. “There wasn’t even a single moment I was going to do anything other than run for re-election in Donald Trump’s era to keep fighting him. “