Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) made history last night by being the first of his family to lose an election in Massachusetts, failing to defeat longtime incumbent Ed Markey in what was called the nation’s weirdest primary. As of this posting, with 86 percent of the vote in, Markey led Kennedy by 55.1 percent to 44.5 percent. Kennedy has conceded.
As Robert Boatright noted in a post from The Conversation last week, it was questionable why Kennedy was challenging the longtime senator, as Markey had done nothing scandalous and had one of the Senate’s most progressive voting records while representing one of the most progressive states.
Boatright added: “The 2020 primary season featured several House campaigns in which young, progressive candidates challenged long-serving incumbents in districts that were once considered safe. Three of these challengers – Jamaal Bowman in New York, Cori Bush in Missouri and Marie Newman in Illinois – even won. But in the Massachusetts race, the ideological differences – if there are any – are muddled. Kennedy [could not] make a credible claim to be running to Markey’s left. Markey secured the backing of progressive star Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the winner of the highest-profile primary battle of 2018, and he made his support of progressive policy goals like the Green New Deal a centerpiece of his campaign. Kennedy, meanwhile, secured the endorsements of older establishment figures like Nancy Pelosi and the late John Lewis.”
Boston.com reports: “Initially down by as much as double-digits in the polls, the longtime Washington, D.C., legislator climbed back to a win over challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who conceded just two hours after the polls closed. Despite the hard-fought race, Markey said Tuesday night that he remained committed to talking and working with Kennedy ‘to make the lasting, meaningful change that I know that we are both committed to.'”
The race for Kennedy’s seat, between Jake Auchincloss and Jesse Mermell, remains too close to call.
In other Massachusetts primary news, incumbent Rep. Richard Neal defeated gay Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
The NYT reports: “Mr. Neal’s victory over Alex Morse, a 31-year-old mayor who had endorsements from a number of high-profile progressive politicians and groups, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, broke a string of progressive triumphs that have recently upended senior House Democrats from New York to Missouri. Late Tuesday, Mr. Neal was leading Mr. Morse by about 20 percentage points.”
Morse was hit last month with an ugly, homophobic smear campaign coordinated by Massachusetts Democratic Party officials and college Democrats, one of whom hoped to get a job with Neal.