Massachusetts Primary Day arrives on September 1, 2020.
The Democratic ballot has a 2-way race for the U.S. Senate and a 9-way race for a U.S. House district, and Joseph P. Kennedy III is the reason for both races. Among my friends who follow state politics, it’s chaos.
A grandson of U.S. Senator and Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, JPK III is the current U.S. Rep. for the 4th Congressional District. I live (t)here. He is challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Ed Markey. Both men are Democrats, and both were elected to their respective seats in 2013.
Because of his Senate run, Kennedy’s House seat is up for grabs — and nine Democrats and two Republicans want it. More on them in a moment…
The Senate Race:
Markey, 73, brings tenure and experience to the race. He has represented Massachusetts on Capitol Hill since 1976 (as a Representative and a Senator). He’s the old guard with a built-up war chest of funds, contacts, and resources.
Kennedy, 39, is a 4-term Congressman. He is the new guard, and he has many allies (including the late great John Lewis).
They have comparable policies. Debate reactions indicate voters really like both men. A recent poll shows Markey leading by only 3 points.
“Analysts say that a primary race like this would typically see low turnout, with only the most dedicated Democrats casting ballots — a result that would likely favor Markey. But this year Beacon Hill passed a law allowing every registered voter to cast an absentee ballot by mail…”
“The unprecedented scenario could lead to a larger turnout, and more participation by less-active voters, all of which analysts believe would boost Kennedy.”– Victoria McGrane in The Boston Globe, July 31, 2020
Markey has two factors in his favor:
First, it’s hard to unseat an incumbent. From 1964-2018, American voters re-elected House members 93% of the time and re-elected Senators 82%. This is not to say that Markey is a shoo-in as Mass. voters remember that two years ago, Ayanna Pressley beat 10-term incumbent Rep. Mike Capuano in a primary election.
Second, Kennedy is running in part with his family name. I read a fascinating analysis earlier this year suggesting that Kennedy wants to fulfill the Camelot legacy like his grand-uncle and get elected to President. It’s a logical argument and it’s easier to accomplish the goal as a Senator.
I like both men. I’ve met both men. I’m confident that they can both get the job done.
I support Markey for a single reason: He has a long history of internet advocacy including net neutrality.
As the country struggles with racial inequality, it is crucial that we reduce the digital divide. Markey doesn’t need to be trained in the importance of an open web. He speaks geek.
And, Markey doesn’t have presidential dreams. He should keep the job.
The House Race:
There are nine Democrats and two Republicans vying for Kennedy’s open seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district comprises 34 cities and towns.
WBUR profiled the candidates and asked everyone the same four questions. It’s a wonderful guide to learn their passions, how they (or their staffers) write, and what makes them tick.
On political parties, I don’t think a Republican will win. Anything is possible but the last Republican to hold the seat was defeated in 1947. The state and district are predominantly blue.
If the past few months have taught the country anything, it’s imperative that we eliminate social inequities. Race, gender, economic protections. The United States needs to turn the page on the past and unite for a better tomorrow.
Of the four, I’ve known Jesse Mermell the longest. We connected on LinkedIn in 2016.
At the time, she led a nonpartisan organization called The Alliance for Business Leadership. It served (and still exists) to convene stakeholders who were committed to promote social responsibility of the state economy. She and I had dozens of mutual connections and it made strategic sense to send her an invitation to connect. She accepted.
I’ve seen Jesse speak. She has clear diction and is well-prepared. She has the context and the contacts to succeed on Capitol Hill.
Endorsements don’t vote but hers (at that link) include a who’s who of local and state leaders such as Pressley and numerous statewide unions.
Primary Day is on September 1.
My ballot will include filled-in ovals in support of Ed Markey to be re-elected to the Senate, and Jesse Mermell to be elected to the House.
Any questions or comments?