Joe Kennedy III will challenge Ed Markey in Senate primary

By Grace Segers

/ CBS News

Kennedy: "not much longer" before decision on Senate bid

Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy III, a scion of the famous political dynasty, will formally announce on Saturday that he is challenging incumbent Senator Ed Markey in the Democratic primary. The Boston Globe first reported the announcement by Kennedy, who has been publicly mulling a bid for months. A Kennedy spokeswoman, Emily Kaufman, confirmed to the Globe that "Joe plans to make a campaign announcement this Saturday in East Boston."

The telegenic 38-year-old Kennedy is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, and he delivered the Democratic rebuttal to President Trump's State of the Union speech in 2018. However, he could face an uphill battle in his challenge to Markey, who has been endorsed by several prominent progressives, including fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The move puts several Massachusetts Democrats and donors in a bind, since they like both men, CBS News' Nancy Cordes points out. Markey has shored up some support with progressives lately, in particular because he co-authored the Green New Deal climate change proposal with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and introduced it in the Senate.

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Ocasio-Cortez endorsed Markey for re-election on Friday, saying in a video released by Markey's campaign that she's backing the Democratic incumbent as one of the Senate's "strongest progressives."

Kennedy, who was once taught by Warren at Harvard Law School, has been stumping on the campaign trail for his former professor. He told reporters earlier this month that he understood why Warren had chosen to endorse Markey and that he was close to making his own decision.

"Primaries get messy. And I totally understand that. I respect her and the position of other folks in the delegation," he said, adding quickly, "That's not a major factor in my decision."

Kennedy filed a statement of candidacy and a principal campaign committee for a 2020 U.S. Senate run in August.

The Massachusetts congressman did not appear to have much support for a Senate bid when he attended the Massachusetts Democratic convention on Saturday. Kennedy constituent Sue Rorke of Medham, Massachusetts, told CBS News she is supporting Markey and does not understand why Kennedy was thinking about running.

"I like Kennedy — there's nothing wrong with Kennedy," she said. "But he's trying to fix a problem that's not there."

Kennedy is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.

Eleanor Watson, Nancy Cordes and Sarah Ewall-Wice contributed to this report

First published on September 18, 2019 / 6:19 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Grace Segers

Grace Segers is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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