U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III is considering a primary challenge against U.S. Sen. Ed Markey next year, according to a report from the New York Times. If Kennedy chooses to vie for Markey’s seat, his decision could potentially lead to one of the highest-profile Democratic races in the country.
While Kennedy has publicly stated that he intends to run for re-election in 2020, a Democratic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Times that Kennedy confided that he was considering campaigning against Markey, 73, and would make his decision in the coming weeks.
A spokesperson for Kennedy was not immediately available for comment.
Paul Tencher, a senior adviser to Markey’s campaign, told the Times that the senator would not be intimidated by speculation of a challenge from Kennedy.
“Ed is not going anywhere,” Tencher said. “He’s going to run, and he’s going to run no matter who is in this race.”
While both Kennedy and Markey are progressive Democrats, a contested race between the grand-nephew of President John F. Kennedy and the senator with more than 40 years of experience in politics has the potential to create a media whirlwind.
Speculation surrounding Kennedy’s interest in challenging Markey began last month, when Politico reported on a poll testing his prospects against the incumbent senator. On Friday, a Democratic official confirmed that Kennedy had paid for the survey, according to the Times.
Following the poll, a group called “Jump in, Joe!” was created with the aim of encouraging Kennedy to run for the seat, the Times reported.
“We think Congressman Kennedy should run for the United States Senate not simply to oppose any person or because his last name is Kennedy,” the group states on its website. “The congressman should run because our country is vulnerable, and he has demonstrated that he has the energy, courage, and progressive ideas to fight for the Commonwealth and put our nation on a more just course.”
While Mr. Kennedy delivered the Democratic response to President Trump’s State of the Union in 2018, he hasn’t tried to attract lots of attention in Washington since being elected in 2012, according to the Times. However, he recently wrote an opinion article about his grandfather for The Washington Post and was interviewed on the podcast of President Barack Obama’s former adviser David Axelrod.
Should Kennedy challenge him, Markey has already secured the support of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has taped a video in support of his re-election, two Democrats told the Times.
In addition, Markey sent a list of endorsements from fellow Massachusetts colleagues in Congress to The Boston Globe on Thursday, which did not include Kennedy.
Markey and Kennedy have not seen each other recently, but did talk on the phone last week, a Democrat familiar with the conversation told the Times. Markey reportedly called to offer his condolences shortly after Kennedy’s cousin, Saoirse Kennedy Hill, died at age 22 in Hyannis Port.
A spokesperson for Markey was not immediately available for comment.
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