Ocasio-Cortez’s blessing, delivered in a two-minute video, aims to strengthen the Massachusetts Democrat’s position ahead of what is likely to be a difficult primary a year from now.
But Rep. Joe Kennedy III, a grandson of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, is actively considering a Senate run and is expected to prove the most formidable opponent if he jumps in. All else being equal, Kennedy’s family name grants him exalted status in the Bay State. Reliable independent polls show him with a double-digit lead in a hypothetical, head-to-head matchup with Markey.
“Ed Markey is a proud and strong progressive champion for working families ― not just in Massachusetts but across the country,” Ocasio-Cortez said in the endorsement video.
Ocasio-Cortez, who co-sponsored her Green New Deal resolution with Markey, one of Capitol Hill’s veteran climate change experts, emphasized Markey’s leadership on the issue. The Green New Deal, which has become a touchstone for young climate activists, is a blueprint for shifting the U.S. entirely to renewable energy in the coming decades in a way that is economically, socially and racially equitable.
“When I first got to Congress and we started to discuss big, bold plans ― a solution on the scale of the crisis ― many members shied away. A lot of people said we can’t do too much, we can’t go too fast in order to pursue change for the American people,” she said. “And Ed Markey was one of the few people who had the courage to stand up and take a chance ― and take a chance on a freshman congresswoman and take a chance on this plan.”
Ocasio-Cortez is the second House member to endorse Markey. Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat and ally of Ocasio-Cortez’s, announced his support for Markey on Monday.
Markey, 73, has served in Congress since more than a decade before Ocasio-Cortez, 29, was born. And even though Kennedy is younger, at 38, the prospect of a Markey-Kennedy battle affirms that for the predominantly millennial and generation Z progressive activists, ideology is stronger than generational loyalty.
Markey, who shepherded a cap-and-trade bill through the House in 2010 and played a key role in a 1996 bill modernizing the telecommunications infrastructure, is widely viewed as more progressive than Kennedy.
Although Kennedy is officially a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, he held off on supporting marijuana legalization until November and did not join the co-sponsors of a single-payer health care bill in the House until February.
Markey is preparing to establish himself as the choice for the state’s considerable population of progressive-leaning Democrats. Elizabeth Warren, his Massachusetts colleague in the Senate whose bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination Markey endorsed in July, returned the favor with a video endorsement last month. And the Sunrise Movement, a Boston-based group of young climate activists who have engaged in civil disobedience to push for the Green New Deal, endorsed him in August.
The Massachusetts Senate primary is set for Sept. 15, 2020. The Democratic nominee is highly favored to win the November general election in the solidly blue state.