Massachusetts’s Joe Kennedy Could Make History with Senate Election…Just Not in the Way You Think

Posted: Aug 31, 2020 12:45 PM
Massachusetts’s Joe Kennedy Could Make History with Senate Election…Just Not in the Way You Think

Source: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

No, there will be no Republican win in Massachusetts. That’s not what I’m talking about. There’s nothing to gain in that race except in the entertainment value of watching the Democratic bloodsports in the Senate primary between incumbent Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy. It’s a race that’s become another proxy fight between the progressive Left and the Democratic establishment, given that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Kennedy over Markey. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) decided to back Markey.

Markey has endorsed the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, so his lead in the polls is mostly grounded by running the table on these feisty left-wingers in the Bay State (via Politico):

Just two years ago, Joe Kennedy’s star was so bright that he was asked to deliver the Democratic Party’s response to Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech. Now, if he can’t turn things around before Tuesday’s Massachusetts Senate primary, he’ll be out of politics.

A handful of recent polls show the 39-year-old congressman trailing incumbent Sen. Ed Markey — the septuagenarian incumbent whose campaign is improbably powered by younger progressive voters. Among voters under the age of 35, one of those polls reports, Markey is leading Kennedy by an almost 2-to-1 margin.

This was also echoed in Michael Graham’s piece with Inside Sources on the race, in which he noted history could be made in this primary race, though probably not in the way that Joe would like to be remembered. No Kennedy has lost a race in Massachusetts—ever. A young war hero named John Fitzgerald Kennedy ran for Congress in 1946, won that race, and so began the undefeated Kennedy political dynasty in the state. You’d think that Joe would clean Markey’s clock. As Graham noted, over one-third of MA voters, uh, didn’t even know who the hell he was, but the hard-left shift he’s taken on policy and some nice zingers have all culminated in him taking the lead in the polls:

The last time a Kennedy was defeated in the deep-blue bastion of Massachusetts was…never. No Kennedy has lost at the ballot box since John F. Kennedy was first elected to Congress in 1946. And certainly no Kennedy has ever lost a Democratic primary.

And yet, polls predict that’s exactly what’s about to happen on Tuesday in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary between challenger Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III and incumbent Sen. Ed Markey.


Ed Markey and his campaign made this a race about policy, not personality,” says veteran Massachusetts pollster David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. “Kennedy has the cache of his name, but Markey has been advocating the progressive policies that energize the current Democratic Party.”

Among those polices is the Green New Deal, which Markey announced with great fanfare standing beside progressive rock star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Markey is also an outspoken advocate of so-called ‘net neutrality’ regulation of the internet, and he was one of 16 original co-sponsors of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All legislation.

“This is a solid win for progressive policy,” says Mara Dolan, a Massachusetts-based Democratic strategist who has advised the Markey campaign.


One Markey campaign video, which has been viewed more than 3 million times, used JFK’s most famous words to undercut Rep. Kennedy’s candidacy: “We asked what we could do for our country. We went out, we did it,” Markey says in the ad. “With all due respect, it’s time to start asking what your country can do for you.”

“That line drew blood,” one Massachusetts Democratic operative told InsideSources. “My text messages blew up when that hit.”

Yet, Graham adds that you should probably never count out the Kennedy name. Maybe, but if Joe goes down tomorrow, it could be the sign of the end of another political powerhouse. The Bushes are over. The Clintons are over. The Kennedys could be over. The old guard is finished. Democrats want a left-wing party. Republicans are undergoing a right-wing, populist shift. It is what it is, folks.