• Sun. Oct 25th, 2020

Ed Markey defeats Joseph Kennedy III in Massachusetts primary


Joe Kennedy III Image copyright Reuters

US Representative Joseph Kennedy III has been defeated in his bid to become senator for Massachusetts.

The grandson of assassinated presidential candidate Robert Kennedy lost the Democratic primary to incumbent Senator Ed Markey on Tuesday.

Mr Markey, 74, will stand for another six-year term in the election on 3 November.

It is the first time a member of the Kennedy dynasty has been defeated in a congressional vote in the state.

Mr Kennedy, 39, is currently serving his fourth term in Congress and was seen as a favourite when he announced he would run for the seat in September last year.

He was supported by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018.

But neither his record nor his family’s legacy were enough to ensure victory against Mr Markey, a political veteran who co-authored the Green New Deal with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Image copyright Zach Gibson/Getty Images
Image caption Senator Edward Markey has been a fixture of Massachusetts politics for more than four decades

“Our movement is fuelled by young people who are not afraid to raise their voices or make enemies,” Mr Markey wrote on Twitter after Tuesday’s primary.

“Tonight’s victory is a tribute to those young people and to their vision.”

The Kennedy name still opens a lot of doors in Massachusetts, but it is no longer a golden ticket at the ballot box.

That is the lesson learned the hard way by Congressman Joe Kennedy, whose bid to unseat 74-year-old Senator Ed Markey came up well short on Tuesday.

Kennedy boasted a famous surname and the reputation as a rising star among Democrats, but Markey had the backing of the party’s liberal wing and a particularly valuable endorsement from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He worked with the New York congresswoman to sponsor the Green New Deal climate plan in Congress, which earned him the enthusiastic support of environmental activists.

Younger voters in particular backed Markey by a significant margin, suggesting those who did not live through the golden years of the Kennedy clan may view the family not as a trusted political name, but rather the embodiment of establishment privilege and power.

Markey’s victory could also be a testament to the power of incumbency, as another congressional veteran, Richard Neal – chair of the powerful House Ways and Means committee – held off a strong challenge by younger liberal challenger Alex Morse.

Politicians who are generally well liked and not out-of-step with their constituents can be difficult to unseat.