Shortly before the Associated Press called the election in favor of Ed Markey, challenger and Massachusetts political scion Joe Kennedy called the incumbent to concede the Democratic primary to the senator.
The race between the incumbent 74-year-old and his pedigreed 39-year-old challenger has drawn significant national attention, as well as substantial turnout. Over 900,000 ballots were cast ahead of time in the first election in which the state has allowed for universal voting by mail, and by the time the tallying of in-person voting is finished, it could be the biggest Massachusetts primary turnout in over 20 years. From the national stage, the fierce primary has attracted major endorsements (Nancy Pelosi for Kennedy, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for Markey) as “backers sought to frame the race between a veteran senator with progressive credentials and a younger Kennedy family member with few policy complaints about Markey as an all-or-nothing fight for the soul of the national Democratic Party,” as New York’s Gabriel Debenedetti wrote last week.
Kennedy, who has represented the state’s fourth district in the House since 2013, pointed throughout the primary to his strength among working-class whites and voters of color. But his coalition and name recognition as the grandson of RFK was not enough to best Markey’s support among left-leaning young voters and older, wealthier Democrats. Markey, a co-author of the Green New Deal, is now expected to win the general to serve in his second full Senate term, after representing much of Boston in the House since before his challenger was born.
While progressives in Massachusetts and beyond breathed a sigh of relief,
an inverse of the progressive-versus-Establishment dynamic did not play out in their favor in a House race in the state’s rural, liberal west. According to an early projection, Richard Neal, the 71-year-old chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, defeated challenger and 31-year-old Holyoke mayor Alex Morse, following a bizarre primary in which aspiring college-aged operatives reportedly attempted to shop allegations of sexual misconduct to various media outlets.
In his loss, Kennedy made history, becoming the first member of his family to lose a primary in Massachusetts. As Cook Political Report’s Dave Wasserman notes, the only “remaining drama” in the primary is the race for his House seat, which is currently locked in a three-way tie.