Kennedy heir defeated in bid to become senator

The grandnephew of assassinated US president John F Kennedy has been defeated in his bid to become a senator for Massachusetts.

The 39-year-old Joseph Kennedy III had been the heavy favourite to win the nomination in the Democratic primary, but his defeat to incumbent Edward Markey marks the first time that a member of the Kennedy family has lost a congressional vote in the state.

Mr Markey, 74, will be standing for another six-year term on 3 November – where he is a favourite against the Republican primary winner, Kevin O’Connor.

His win is a victory for the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party.

Senator Edward Markey questions government transportation officials on aviation safety after two fatal Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashes, during a hearing by the Senate Commerce subcommittee on Transportation and Safety on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Image:Senator Edward Markey aligned himself with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party

Mr Kennedy is currently serving his fourth term in Congress.

After he announced he would run for the Senate seat in September 2019, he received support from speaker of the US House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.

He had also delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump‘s State of the Union address in 2018.

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But his own profile and family’s legacy were not enough against Mr Markey, a veteran politician who had teamed up with New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, sponsoring the Green New Deal climate change initiative in Congress.

Mr Kennedy labelled the as “a progressive in name only” during the race.

During a celebration in his hometown of Malden, Massachusetts, Mr Markey ticked off a number of his priorities, including support for the Black Lives Matter movement, a call for Medicare for All and combating climate change – one of his biggest issues.

Speaking on climate change, Mr Markey said: “No solution to any challenge will be successful unless we address it. There will be no peace, no justice and no prosperity unless we stop the march to climate destruction. We must pass a Green New Deal.”

He called Mr Trump “the most corrupt, most racist, most incompetent president in American history. We must banish his agenda of division and destruction to the history books”.

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Despite his defeat, Mr Kennedy says he would work for Mr Markey’s re-election at the November poll, saying “the senator is a good man. You never heard me say otherwise.”

He added: “We may have lost the final vote count tonight but we built a coalition that will endure,” suggesting the movement of supporters his campaign pulled together would continue.

In the last few weeks of campaigning, Mr Kennedy used his family’s political legacy: he is the grandson of Robert F Kennedy, the assassinated presidential hopeful, and the grandnephew of JFK. Edward Kennedy was a senator for Massachusetts for nearly half a century until his death in 2009.

Mr Markey leaned on his family story, too – growing up in the working-class city of Malden with a father who drove a truck for the Hood Milk company.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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