With the 2020 Presidential Election right around the corner, tension is running high in politics and arguably one of the most intense elections that just took place was the Democratic Primary for Senate in Massachusetts. Candidates Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy both put up an intense fight to win Democratic votes. Ultimately, Markey came out on top, putting an end to the Kennedy family’s Massachusetts winning streak.
Markey ran his campaign by marketing himself as the most progressive candidate in the race and seemed to create a stark contrast between him and Kennedy by differentiating between their upbringings. Markey, the son of a milkman, argued that he had to fight his way into the senate, unlike Kennedy, who was raised by a wealthy and powerful family. As a co-author of the Green New Deal, Markey promised to keep fighting for progressive values such as Medicare for All and fairer taxes. Kennedy, on the other hand, focused his campaign on social and economic change, and promised to bring change with new leadership, as Markey has been serving Massachusetts in Congress for several decades.
The two candidates seemed to agree on many policy issues, which lead to critics raising questions about why Kennedy would choose to run in the first place. While Markey received endorsements and praise from powerful Democrats such as Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Elizabeth Warren, Kennedy began to receive more backlash from Markey supporters who began to bring up his family as a means of criticism. The Kennedy team complained about online harassment towards Kennedy from Markey supporters, and Kennedy notably mentioned this during a debate, which took place on Aug. 11 after being confronted by Kennedy on stage about the violent nature of certain tweets directed towards Kennedy. Following this, Kennedy’s campaign manager Nick Clemons emailed John Walsh, Markey's campaign manager, calling for “a personal and public statement from Senator Markey himself instructing his followers to immediately end the attacks on Joe’s supporters, the threats to Joe and his family’s life, and the destruction of Kennedy for Massachusetts campaign materials and property.” Walsh responded via Twitter by dismissing the email as a campaign stunt and added that “Senator Markey has condemned all vile and hateful speech surrounding this race - and you know it. The Markey campaign has put up with non-stop Kennedy-campaign supported harassment.”
In an effort to discredit Markey’s substantial political career and sway voters, Kennedy emphasized his votes on the Iraq War, NAFTA, the Patriot Act and the 1994 crime bill. Similarly, Markey pointed out Kennedy’s lack of legislation while noting that he had written hundreds of laws throughout his career.
Kennedy’s initial lead in the polls began to fade as mail-in ballots rolled in, putting Markey in the lead. Kennedy appeared to poll well among non-white voters, moderate and voters without college degrees, while Markey captured young, white and college-educated voters.
Markey won about 54 percent of votes when Kennedy conceded from the race, securing his spot as the Democratic nominee for Massachusetts senate. The election will take place on Nov. 3, when Markey will face Republican candidate Kevin O’Connor.