Polls are set to close soon in Massachusetts in the closely watched contest between Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III.
The primary battle between Markey and Kennedy has become increasingly nasty in its closing weeks, with Kennedy hammering Markey over decades-old votes on busing and the 1994 crime bill. Markey, meanwhile, took some swipes at Kennedy’s family, playing off of President John F. Kennedy’s famous line, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.”
Polls close at 8:00 p.m. ET.
In a campaign video, Markey said, “With all due respect, it’s time to start asking what your country can do for you.”
Kennedy had tried to paint himself as more progressive on racial issues than Markey.
“I am a 39-year-old white man of tremendous privilege. My own work on racial justice is wholly incomplete. But this fight is in my blood,” he said in a speech last month.
From a distance, the race appeared to be similar to others around the country where longtime Democratic politicians were ousted in primaries by younger, more progressive challengers. But different dynamics were in play in the Markey-Kennedy fight.
Kennedy, 39, wasn’t considered more liberal than Markey, and he hails from the state’s most powerful political dynasty — his grandfather was Sen. Robert Kennedy and JFK was his great-uncle. Kennedy’s run was endorsed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., several other well-known Democrats and some key labor unions.
Markey, 74, a longtime congressman who was elected to the Senate in 2013, has a progressive record and is one of the co-sponsors of the “Green New Deal.” That earned him the endorsement of progressive star Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and he’s also been backed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
And Markey was supported by Justice Democrats, the group that helped propel Ocasio-Cortez to a stunning primary victory in 2018 and which has helped put together a string of other primary victories this year.
In another closely watched race Tuesday night, Rep. Richard Neal, the head of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, was facing a primary challenge from Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, Mass.
In the 1st Congressional District battle, incumbent Neal, 71, found himself being challenged by Morse, 31, and the Justice Democrats, who painted him as an obstacle to their agenda — including Medicare-for-all and the Green New Deal.
Morse hammered Neal for not being aggressive enough in his bid to get President Donald Trump’s tax returns from the Treasury Department, something the Ways and Means chair is technically empowered to do.
“The chairman has a lot of power. But he dropped the ball. He didn’t use that power to hold this president accountable,” Morse told the Washington Post.
In a debate, Neal insisted he’s “delivered” for his constituents.
Neal was backed by Pelosi, who said, “I know what he has done” in office, and “it would be a tremendous loss to the district to lose chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.”