A Kennedy Loses a Mass. Primary for first time in History, ending a Political Dynasty
By: Sammy Quarrato
Massachusetts had a somewhat mixed night for both Progressives and Centrists, though the winners of both political factions of the Democratic primary were incumbents. That’s not surprising due to the fact that about 90% of members of Congress win re-election.
Though the Democratic primary for the Senate in Massachusetts was somewhat of an unorthodox race due to the following factors.
Usually, serious challengers to incumbents in Democratic primaries flank their opponent from the Left. This time Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) (the incumbent) was being ‘flanked from the center’ by Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA).
A Kennedy has also never lost a Massachusetts primary up until this point, making the scoreboard 26-1.
Also, both establishment and progressive Democrats endorsed both of these candidates which made this race even more odd.
Yes, you had Progressives such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and his fellow Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) endorse him.
Yet you had establishment figures such as Minority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Blue Dog Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) endorsing Markey despite Kennedy being more in line with their type of politics.
This oddity of a predicament was also relevant to Joe Kennedy’s endorsements. He received typical endorsements for a Centrist, such as Senator Kristen Synema (D-AZ), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA).
Yet, he also had Progressives endorse his campaign such as Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), Pramilla Jaypal (D-WA) and Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) declined to endorse anyone, which to Progressives such as Krystal Ball and Kyle Kulinski was unacceptable.
The endorsement that really shook up the field was House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) who endorsed Kennedy despite the Democratic Congressional Campaign which she is part of stating that it would blacklist anyone or any organization who endorsed a challenger to an incumbent.
This rightfully upsetted Progressives due to the clear hypocrisy. Pelosi even attempted to shift the goal post by stating that Joe Kennedy is an incumbent House member which exempts him from this rule.
The reason for Markey winning however was that he ran a campaign and got a coalition of Progressives, young people, college students, Bernie supporters, and Warren supporters to go out and vote for him due to his progressive policies, such as the Green New Deal (which he co-wrote), Medicare for All, and Tuition-Free Public College.
Kennedy, on the other hand, had a sense of entitlement according to one of the polls conducted in the race. He did not give enough differences between him and Markey alongside any real reason why he was running against Markey besides the silent implication that he “deserves” the seat.
Markey got 55% of the vote while Kennedy got 45%, an easy victory for Markey despite the beginning of the race not looking too bright for him with Kennedy leading in the polls.
However, there was another race that was getting a similar amount of attention put onto it which was Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA) against the Justice Democrat Mayor of Holyoke, Alex Morse.
A couple of weeks before Primary Day and about a week before early voting, allegations of sexual misconduct came up about the Mayor.
This claim came from UMass College Democrats which stated that he had ‘behaved inappropriately’ and was ‘abusing his power’ due to him being a professor at the University of Massachusetts.
There were no specific stories brought up and the overall accusation was vague.
He’s a gay man who was using gay dating apps such as Grindr to hook up with consenting men, some of whom attended the University where none of them were students of his.
That’s right, there is no scandal because there’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of that, especially due to the fact that he made the conscious effort not to tell some of his dates that he was a mayor or professor.
He did this so that there was no power dynamic between him and the people he was engaging in consensual activities with.
This was a homophobic smear that was clearly not a coincidence with its release date right before mail-in voting and Primary Day.
The Intercept also published leaked chat logs of College Democrat members planning for months on end to somehow ruin Morse’s campaign.
They later issued an apology but the damage was already done. Neal won 60% to 40%, a clear and decisive win for him.
Sunrise Movement chapters pulled back their endorsements of Morse until they later re-endorsed him, showing just how effective this smear was.
Morse is likely to run again in 2022 where he has a better shot at winning after the revelation of the homophobic smear alongside better name recognition.
Overall, this primary in Massachusetts was a unique one where both parts of the Democratic Party came back home with wins and losses, but this battle for the party clearly won’t be over for a while.