As Joe Kennedy III Fidgets on Decision, Ed Markey Announces More Endorsements

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By Chris Lisinski

NEWTON — U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III continues his now-public debate over whether to challenge for U.S. Senator Edward Markey’s seat in 2020, a majority of the Massachusetts Legislature — including the top leaders in both branches — are backing the incumbent.

Markey announced endorsements from 116 Democratic state lawmakers on Tuesday, one day after Kennedy confirmed he has been exploring a primary challenge and filed the fund-raising paperwork necessary to launch one.

The list of supporters for Markey includes both House Speaker Robert DeLeo (D-Winthrop) and Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland), longtime moderate figures such as Senate Ways and Means Committee chairman Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), and progressives such as state Representatives Tami Gouveia (D-Acton) and Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge).

“I am humbled to have the support of so many friends and colleagues across Massachusetts for re-election, and I pledge to fight for them and all communities in the Commonwealth every day,” Markey said in a statement. “The people of Massachusetts have always been at the forefront of the challenges of our time — universal health care, same-sex marriage, earned sick time, equal rights — and I want to continue leading those fights in the United States Senate.”

The legislative endorsements add to a busy week-plus of endorsements for Markey, who has announced the backing of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Cambridge), NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, and the Sunrise Movement as his primary race has attracted more attention.

Markey’s announcement came around 1:45 p.m. Tuesday, just minutes after Kennedy made his first public appearance since he confirmed he is weighing a Senate run.

Speaking to reporters outside the Newton Fire Department, Kennedy declined to put a specific timeframe on when he would make a decision. He will wait, he said, “as long as it takes to come to the right decision.”

“I don’t think there’s anybody out there that would think that today’s environment, what we see across the country today, is the best this country can do, the best we can be,” Kennedy said. “I think we can do better.”

The 38-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy denied that his potential challenge of the 73-year-old incumbent was about “age.” He also declined to describe current Democratic leadership as a failed generation.

In fact, Kennedy spoke very little about Markey directly, instead touting the “new ideas” and “new approach” he would bring without offering specifics.

“Senator Markey is a good man,” Kennedy said. “The reason I’m considering this race is there are still challenges that our country [faces], not just because of what Donald Trump does every single day, but fractures that were broken long before he was able to win an election and that, in fact, enabled him to win that election. If we are solely focused on what Trump does and not healing these wounds and making our country stronger, then shame on us.”