Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Ed Markey is challenging one of the most dynastic political families in America to fend off his primary challenger in the state’s Sept. 1 down-ballot primary.
Markey, the state’s junior senator, is running against Rep. Joe Kennedy III, who launched his primary challenge 11 months ago. Markey has repeatedly criticized Kennedy’s background in an attempt to draw a distinction between his own working-class roots and the wealth and status that has surrounded his family for generations.
Markey’s rhetoric was once considered political suicide in the Democratic state, Politico reported, but polls have shown that the race has become closer between the incumbent, who has held elected office in Massachusetts for over 40 years, and Kennedy, who would become the fourth member of his family to become a U.S. senator.
“I’m the son of a milkman and a hardworking mother. I was a commuter student who paid my way through college selling ice cream. Where I come from, no one expects to become a U.S. senator,” Markey said in an Instagram post.
“Welcome to the compound!” he joked when a Boston Globe columnist visited his home in June, a reference to the Kennedy’s famous Hyannis Port compound, Politico reported.
Last Thursday, Markey released a campaign video that challenged one of the most famous lines in American politics, spoken by Kennedy’s great uncle, President John F. Kennedy.
“We asked what we could do for our country. We went out, we did it,” Markey says, looking into the camera with arms crossed. “With all due respect, it’s time to start asking what your country can do for you.”
Kennedy has noticed Markey’s intensifying attacks, and accused him of “weaponizing” his family during a press conference Monday, The Hill reported.
“I’m here today to talk about my family. Which is something most of you know I don’t do very often. But Sen. Markey seems intent on making them an issue in his race,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy accused Markey of “questioning their integrity,” “weaponizing their history” and “appropriating their words.”
Kennedy is the grandson of former Attorney General and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and the son of former Massachusetts representative Joe Kennedy II.
Joe Kennedy II donated nearly $3 million towards his son’s campaign, which Markey emphasized in an effort to contrast himself with the Kennedy dynasty, The Hill reported. (RELATED: Amy Kennedy Wins New Jersey Congressional Primary)
“I’m sure your father is watching right now. Tell your father right now that you don’t want money to go into a super PAC that runs negative ads,” Markey said in a debate last week, accusing his opponent of relying on his family money to boost his campaign.
Markey has relied on his progressive credentials throughout his campaign, emphasizing his co-sponsoring of the Senate’s version of the Green New Deal. Though progressive, he has touted his ability as an effective lawmaker, and has earned endorsements from prominent Democrats ranging from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin.
Though Markey originally trailed in the polls, the primary has morphed into a toss-up race in the final weeks before the election. The RealClearPolitics average has the two Massachusetts lawmakers tied at 44.8%.
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