The September 1 election is one of the most closely watched primary fights of the 2020 cycle.
“One of the first times I saw Joe in Texas was after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston & surrounding areas. Some had lost their homes, others had lost everything, and they needed help. Joe was on the ground working w/ local leaders to connect them with federal and state services,” O’Rourke said. “He later came back down to help us campaign against Ted Cruz. The conventional wisdom said we had no shot. But he believed in our grassroots campaign & lent a hand at a time that we really needed it. I saw him do that for countless Congressional candidates across the country.”
Kennedy rejected the initial calls for him to run for Senate more than a year ago, saying in an interview that the “thought literally never crossed my mind to jump into a Democratic primary” against his friend, Markey, who has served in Congress since before he was born and has known Kennedy throughout his life.
Yet after repeated requests, Kennedy took a look and saw that despite 44 years in the US House and Senate, Markey was not beloved in the state. So, the four-term congressman announced a Senate bid in the fall of 2019 focused on “social and economic justice,” offering generational change.
A Kennedy has never lost Massachusetts. But the presumptive heir to the Democratic Party’s family dynasty may have made a risky bet. Markey, 74, has countered the shine of the Kennedy name by projecting the power of some of the party’s stars, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who have fundraised for the senator.
Markey supporters say he deserves another six-year term based on his voting record and highlight his co-authorship of the Green New Deal and earlier support of “Medicare for All,” pointing to both as signs that he is of the times.
Kennedy, meanwhile, has maintained that he would be a different kind of senator, who will travel across the country and the state to elect Democrats, as he did in 2018 to help the party retake the House.
CNN’s Alex Rogers, Clare Foran and Gregory Krieg contributed to this report.