Joe-Joe-Joe Says No-No-No About Kennedy Name Enabling His U.S. Senate Run

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The name Kennedy is synonymous with Massachusetts politics, but U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III insists it has nothing to do with his 2020 U.S. Senate campaign.

Kennedy, who represents Massachusetts’s Fourth Congressional District, is primarying incumbent U.S. Senator Ed Markey.

For a primary challenger, Kennedy boasts serious name recognition. His great-uncles are former President John. F Kennedy and former Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy. His grandfather is former U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy and his father is Joseph P. Kennedy II, who represented Massachusetts’s Eighth Congressional District from 1987 to 1999.

Kennedy stopped by the Quincy Democratic City Committee Caucus in the morning on Saturday, February 15 to shake hands, take photos, and speak with caucus attendees.

A reporter from New Boston Post asked Kennedy about the name recognition advantage and if his last name is the reason he is a serious candidate.

He said he doesn’t think so.

“I would obviously disagree with that,” he told New Boston Post. “I think if you believe, as a Democrat, in the causes that we care about from the environment to gun violence to the economy to health care that everything is absolutely on the line with this election then you need a senator who is willing to use leverage and every single ounce of power that comes with being a Massachusetts senator. This is not a swing state. This is a safe state.”

“With that comes the responsibility to elect a bench and to reclaim power from Mitch McConnell,” he added, referring to the current Senate Majority Leader, a Republican. “It doesn’t matter how many bills you file, he’s not going to move any of them. So go out there, campaign for people, show up constantly to remind people what you’re fighting for. And I do think there is an awful lot that can be done with this position that isn’t currently being done.”

Kennedy reiterated that, generally speaking, he and Markey agree on the issues. Additionally, he said he does not feel any animosity towards the incumbent.

“My opponent is a good, decent man,” Kennedy said of Markey, a fellow Democrat. “I’ve never said otherwise, but there’s an awful lot more that comes with being a senator from this state. If you don’t think this is a critical time, then where we’re at is enough. But if not, then we need to start moving in the right direction. I think we have to and the opportunity in this race absolutely puts that on the table.”

A September 2019 poll from Suffolk University showed Kennedy with a nine-point lead over Markey in the primary tilt – 35 percent to 26 percent.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren endorsed Markey in mid-August, before Kennedy – a former student of hers at Harvard Law School – announced he was running for Markey’s seat. Both Markey and Kennedy have endorsed Warren for president.

Kennedy and Markey have their first scheduled debate set for Tuesday, February 18 at WGBH’s studio in Brighton.

The livestream is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.; the debate is scheduled to last one hour. The moderators are Margery Eagan and Jim Braude, both of Boston Public Radio.