BOSTON (CN) – U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III, grandson of former U.S. Attorney General and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, formally laid down the gauntlet for fellow-Democrat Ed Markey’s Senate seat Saturday morning.
Kennedy, who has served as the U.S. Representative from the Fourth District of Massachusetts since 2013, announced his primary candidacy on Saturday morning during a campaign event in East Boston.
“This community has been with my family for an awful long time. You have stood by us in good times and through some tough times,” Kennedy said during his televised announcement. “My commitment to you, throughout this campaign, if I am fortunate enough to serve as your U.S. senator, I will show up. I will be there for you.”
Markey is a veteran of the Legislature. He won his Senate seat in 2013 after it was vacated by John Kerry, who accepted the role of Secretary of State under the Obama administration. Before that, he served in the U.S. House for 37 years.
Before Kennedy declared his candidacy, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and U.S. Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had already endorsed Markey.
Kennedy’s announcement comes off the heels of Ayanna Pressley’s surprise congressional win in 2018. The former Boston City Councilor challenged popular incumbent Mike Capuano in the 2018 Democratic primary and upset the 20-year veteran of the House.
“The challenge is far too urgent to sit around and wait for someone else to take it,” Kennedy said.
Neither candidate has a clear financial advantage. Markey has just over $4 million dollars in his campaign war chest according to the FEC, while Kennedy has $4.1 left over from his 2018 congressional reelection campaign.
Markey is also facing a primary challenge from attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and Steve Pemberton. He responded to Kennedy’s announcement with a call for a debate on climate change between himself and all three challengers.
“Yesterday, I joined 10,000 activists to strike to end climate change,” said Markey in a released statement Saturday morning. “The people of Massachusetts show me every day how committed they are to fighting for a better future. I challenge my opponents to a debate on climate change. We can’t afford to wait.”