Rep. Joe Kennedy to kick off primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey

Rep. Joe Kennedy to kick off primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey
Pool via CNN
Joe Kennedy

Democratic Rep. Joe Kennedy III of Massachusetts has announced a run for Senate on Saturday morning at the East Boston Social Center, challenging Democratic Sen. Ed Markey, who has served in Congress for more than 40 years.

“We have a Senate that instead of trying to harness the opportunity and potential of every person in this country, they’re trying to pull us back,” Kennedy said Saturday in announcing his run. “And I’m running for the United States Senate to tear that down, to fight back with everything we’ve got.”

In recent weeks, Kennedy, 38, has sought to draw a generational contrast with Markey, 73, while benefiting from the goodwill shown for the generations of Kennedys who have represented the state before him.

In a campaign email Saturday, Kennedy lists conversations he’s had with constituents following President Donald Trump’s election and “outdated structures and old rules” as reasons he decided to enter the Senate race.

“This is the fight of our lives, the fight of my generation — and I’m all in,” he said.

Kennedy is the heir to a political dynasty that has never lost an election in the state, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and the son of former Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy II. One great uncle, Ted Kennedy, served in the Senate for nearly 50 years. Another, John F. Kennedy, won his first congressional race in 1946, when Markey was born.

Kennedy drew on his family’s long ties to Massachusetts in his announcement Saturday.

“It’s extremely meaningful to me to be able to do this here, where in 1848 a few steps from where this building is today, my father’s family first arrived here in this country,” he said.

Kennedy told reporters on Thursday that Markey is “a good man,” but had other issues he wanted to address in the race. Kennedy volunteered for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic and worked as an assistant district attorney for Massachusetts before his election to Congress in 2012.

Last year, Kennedy gave the Democratic party’s official response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address, calling for a “better deal,” a “living wage,” paid leave, affordable child care, “solvent” pensions, “fair” trade pacts, good roads and a “health care system that offers mercy, whether you suffer from cancer or depression or addiction.” He also turned his sights on the President.

“Bullies may land a punch,” he said. “They might leave a mark. But they have never, not once, in the history of our United States, managed to match the strength and spirit of a people united in defense of their future.”

Some viewers focused less on his message and more on his mouth, wondering about his shiny lips. In 2019, Kennedy gave some advice to this year’s speaker, former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, tweeting to “misplace your chapstick.”

In the past several weeks, as the congressman’s interest in the Senate seat became clear, Markey lined up prominent Democratic endorsements. His backers include fellow Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a presidential candidate, and