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Rep. Joe Kennedy III to try and follow JFK into Senate by challenging Sen. Ed Markey

Thomas Barrabi

Massachusetts Rep. Joe Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, will announce Saturday a primary challenge for the U.S. Senate against Democratic incumbent Edward Markey, despite apparent resistance from party leaders, according to multiple reports.

Kennedy, 38, will unveil his plans for a Senate run at a breakfast for supporters in East Boston, the Boston Globe reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. He informed Markey of his decision on Wednesday.

“Joe plans to make a campaign announcement this Saturday in East Boston. He looks forward to speaking with folks then,” Kennedy spokeswoman Emily Kaufman said in a statement to the Globe.

Kennedy’s campaign will center on core issues including health care, climate change and civil rights, the Globe said. Markey is considered a champion of leading progressive causes and co-sponsored  the “Green New Deal” with freshman Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The U.S. representative for Massachusetts’ 4th congressional district since 2013, Kennedy is also the grand-nephew of former President John F. Kennedy and longtime U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy. He is the only member of the Democratic political dynasty currently serving in Congress.

Kennedy delivered the Democratic Party’s response to President Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018.

An announcement would conclude weeks of speculation about a potential Kennedy primary challenge and mark a rare challenge of an incumbent senator of the same party. Kennedy filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission in late August.

“I am humbled by the words and actions of so many people supporting my potential candidacy. It means the world,” Kennedy said at the time. “I plan to spend the next couple weeks talking to as many of you as I can, trying to figure out if this campaign is right for me and right for Massachusetts.”

Leading Senate Democrats had reportedly warned Kennedy to hold off on a challenge against Markey in what is considered a solidly Democratic state in a contentious 2020 election cycle, Politico reported. Markey’s prominent supporters include Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts’ senior U.S. senator.

“I would tell Joe to wait,” Manchin said earlier this month. “Those type of fights when two people are aligned ideologically? What’s the fight?”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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