Bay Staters hoping for the return of a Kennedy to the Senate like his
grand uncle Ted or to the presidency like his grand uncle John, Rep.
Joe Kennedy III is positioning himself to be the next in line.
to nab the Senate seat currently held by Sen. Ed Markey in this
November's election, Kennedy must distinguish himself as more than
just a younger version with the same policy views.
two Democratic senatorial candidates debated for the first time
Tuesday evening during an event hosted by WGBH News at its Brighton
location. But any substantial ideological differences between the two
men did not emerge in the conversation.
primary race has generated both excitement and frustration. While
some are excited by the prospect of Kennedy advancing to the Senate,
for Democrats hoping to take the U.S. Senate in November, the
infighting over a "safe seat" from a political calculus
perspective is a waste of time in a blue state like Massachusetts.
Also, it is perceived to be wasteful when the allocation of money and
resources are limited and needed to unseat Republicans.
I wanted to hear why Kennedy, who champions the same issues as
Markey, would be a better senator than the incumbent.
issue is that at this moment … this is not about finding the
right bill and voting the right way,” Kennedy said.
39, never stated the ideological discrepancies between himself and
Markey, 73, explicitly. However, the issue that was front and center
yet not candidly discussed was their age and generational
differences, which fueled Kennedy’s run.
meet this moment requires more than just defeating [Trump],”
Kennedy stated at his campaign kickoff last September. “It
requires taking on clearly a broken system, the calcified structures
that allowed him to win in the first place.”
I suspect, is trying to arrive in the Senate on the same wave of
enthusiasm and excitement as the Massachusett’s 7th
Congressional District and communities beyond had for then-Boston
City Councilor Ayanna Pressley, which landed her a seat in the U.S.
House of Representatives. Like the Kennedy and Markey race, there
were age and generational differences between Pressley and incumbent
Rep. Michael Capuano, signaling unease in the Democratic party.
However, Pressley unseating the 10-term Capuano isn’t the same
as Kennedy trying to unseat Markey.
Pressley stated at a 2018 canvassing event in Cambridge, Mass., that
I attended, “We might vote the same way, but we will lead
differently,” Pressley was referring to representation —
an issue that neither Kennedy nor Markey has had to struggle with for
themselves or their districts. Capuano, who’s white and male,
witnessed during his tenure the changing demographics of his
constituents. As an African-American woman, Pressley was better
suited to represent and lead what had become a majority-minority
diversity, along with a younger and more progressive generation of
Democratic politicians, is essential for the life of the party. And
in a race between similarly positioned candidates, race, gender and
geographic diversity matter. Yes, so, too, age! But Kennedy must have
more than that.
congressman launched his race for Markey’s seat as "the
fight of his generation." In January, Kennedy held 11 town hall
meetings and made nearly 300 campaign stops across the Commonwealth
since announcing his bid, hoping to excite younger voters to the
polls. However, if 78-year-old Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’
strong poll numbers in the race for the White House are any
indication about voters under 40, then does a candidate's age really
Kennedy is Markey’s challenger, he must distinguish himself
from Markey’s policy positions by demonstrating why age
matters. Kennedy must show why his age would make a difference in the
way that Pressley articulated why her leadership style would make a
difference. Otherwise, this first debate, for me, didn’t
demonstrate a compelling reason to replace Markey for Kennedy —
in other words, to swap an older straight white male for a younger
there will be two more debates before the Sept. 1 primary. Perhaps
those upcoming debates will parse out what I presently see to be two
indistinguishable opponents. Moreover, I feel, unlike where we are
today in our democracy, when it comes to the race for an already-blue
Senate seat, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”