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Representative Joe Kennedy will announce he’ll challenge Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey in next year’s Democratic primary, according to a person familiar with his plans.
The decision sets up a clash between the scion of one of the most storied political families in American history and an incumbent who has spent more than 40 years in Congress. It would pit two of the party’s leading liberal voices in a stark generational fight; Kennedy, 38, was born nearly four years after Markey, 73, was first elected to Congress.
Kennedy, the son of a congressman and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, plans to make a campaign announcement Saturday in Boston, a spokeswoman, Emily Kaufman, said Wednesday without giving details.
His plans to challenge Markey were first reported by the Boston Globe.
Markey’s backers include Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren — a contender for the Democratic presidential nomination who was one of Kennedy’s professors at Harvard Law School — and House progressive firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as the Democratic party’s Senate leadership.
Markey has highlighted his partnership with Ocasio-Cortez in writing the Green New Deal resolution, which has become a centerpiece issue for many Democrats in the 2020 election. Markey has long been associated with the fight to reduce carbon emissions dating to his time in the House, where he co-wrote the sweeping Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill. That bill passed the House in 2009 but failed to get support in the Senate.
Markey declined to comment about whether he had been informed of Kennedy’s plans. He told reporters he’s confident he would prevail in a race against Kennedy, and that he’ll focus on climate change, gun safety, income inequality and other issues.
“I’m going to run on all the issues that I believe in,” he said. “And the response I’m getting all across the state has been absolutely terrific.”
While the party leadership is falling in line behind Markey, one senator has endorsed Kennedy’s run — Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, a former House colleague and close friend of Kennedy’s, Politico reported. She’s a member of the Blue Dog Coalition of moderate-leaning Democrats, while Kennedy has a solidly liberal voting record.
The primary, which would take place next September, will consume millions in a heavily Democratic state that isn’t expected to be a factor in either the presidential race or the fight for control of the Senate. It’s the latest sign of rising splits inside the party, with a progressive backlash in other states against efforts by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to pick well-funded centrists in primary battles in battleground states.
Kennedy led Markey 42-28 in a Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll conducted earlier this month in a state where the Kennedys have held sway for decades.
Kennedy had $4.2 million in his campaign bank account as of July 30, slightly more than Markey’s $4.1 million, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
Kennedy has long been eyed as a potential member of leadership in the House or a run for Senate. He delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s 2018 State of the Union address. He’s focused much of his attention on health care, getting attention for attacks on Trump’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
— With assistance by Billy House, and Laura Litvan
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