Rep. Joe Kennedy III is gearing up to challenge Ed Markey for his Massachusetts Senate seat in 2020 in a primary race that’ll pit a member of a storied political dynasty against his more seasoned counterpart, PEOPLE confirms.
Speculation that Kennedy was looking to throw his hat into the ring has been floating for months, but the Democrat is expected to formally announce his campaign on Saturday at a breakfast in East Boston, The Boston Globe reports.
“He looks forward to speaking with folks then,” spokeswoman Emily Kaufman told the Globe.
Markey’s campaign said in a statement Wednesday that Kennedy had informed him of his decision earlier that day.
The Globe reports that Kennedy, 38, will follow his official Saturday announcement with a brief tour of the state in which he’ll focus on issues he plans to highlight during his campaign — like health care access, mental health and addiction issues, climate change and civil rights.
“I don’t think primaries are something that people should shy away from,” Kennedy told reporters last weekend, according to the Associated Press. “The idea behind it is that every seat, my own included, the one that I currently occupy as a member of the House of Representatives, it’s up every two years. It’s a two-year term. You have to go out and make that case to voters every two years.”
The AP reports that Kennedy called 73-year-old Markey, a fellow Democrat, a “good man” and avoided criticisms.
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Markey, meanwhile, joined the U.S. House of Representatives in 1976 and was elected to the Senate in a special election in 2013.
“In 2013, Ed Markey asked voters to send him to the U.S. Senate to fight for the people of Massachusetts. Since then, he has fought on the front lines to show them they were right,” his campaign said in a statement. “Now he wants to continue that leadership on the issues that matter most — climate change, income inequality, gun reform, universal health care, reproductive freedom, and immigrant rights.”
“Elections are about choices, and Ed looks forward to spending the next 14 months campaigning hard every day to show the people of the Commonwealth why he’s the right choice,” the campaign statement continued. “From lowering drug prices for our seniors, to expanding opioid treatment and recovery services, to creating green jobs for our workers, Ed Markey is ready to continue the fight for Massachusetts.”
Markey has already received endorsements from fellow politicians such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has worked with him on the Green New Deal, and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, though Warren’s endorsement came back in February.
“I couldn’t ask for a better partner in the Senate than Ed Markey. He is a good friend,” Warren said then, according to the AP. “Joe Kennedy is also a good friend. I have worked with him since he was a student of mine; both he and his wife were my students. I have worked with him as a congressman. I have nothing but the highest respect for him. And I have no criticism.”
Meanwhile, other lawmakers like Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, have publicly thrown their support behind Kennedy.
A poll conducted in early September showed Kennedy was 14 percentage points ahead of Markey in a head-to-head matchup, according Politico.