Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) is expected to formally announce that he’s launching a primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) on Saturday, according to multiple reports.
“Joe plans to make a campaign announcement this Saturday in East Boston. He looks forward to speaking with folks then,” Kennedy spokeswoman Emily Kaufman told The Boston Globe on Wednesday.
The news will likely place a national spotlight on the Massachusetts primary and could set up a conflict within the national Democratic Party as well. Kennedy, 38, and Markey, 73, share similar ideologies; the battle may be waged on generational grounds.
Prominent progressives Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Markey’s reelection bid this month. In his endorsement, Khanna applauded Markey’s efforts to curb climate change.
“No one matters more on climate change in the entire Congress than Ed Markey,” Khanna said. “He has the expertise on understanding what we need to do to implement a Green New Deal and the legislative skill to be able to build a coalition for legislation that can pass the Senate.”
Markey was among the first politicians to sound the alarm on climate change. He was a lead author of a cap-and-trade carbon regulation bill that passed the House in 2010 but died in the Senate. He is also a co-sponsor, with Ocasio-Cortez, of a resolution calling for the Green New Deal ― a plan for large-scale economic mobilization aimed at shifting the U.S. entirely to renewable energy in the coming decades.
But a challenge from Kennedy could be formidable. A member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Kennedy is seen as a rising star within the Democratic Party. He delivered the official Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018, denouncing the administration’s policies for “turning American life into a zero-sum game.”
The congressman also represents the latest generation of the Kennedy political dynasty from Massachusetts and has significant name recognition around the country. He is the great-nephew of the late President John F. Kennedy and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, grandson of the late Sen. Robert Kennedy, and son of former Rep. Joseph Kennedy II.
Markey reportedly spoke with Joe Kennedy on Wednesday and later released a statement through his senior campaign adviser John Walsh. “Elections are about choices, and Ed looks forward to spending the next 14 months campaigning hard every day to show the people of the Commonwealth why he’s the right choice,” the statement said.
A poll conducted in late August showed Kennedy leading Markey by 17 percentage points in a hypothetical contest for the Democratic Senate nomination.
Other Democrats running in the state’s Senate primary, set for Sept. 15, 2020, include Boston lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton.