Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. US Election 2020
2 September 2020updated 06 Sep 2021 3:37pm

Son of a milkman beats a Kennedy in Massachusetts Senate race

Emily Tamkin writes: Representative Joe Kennedy III has conceded to Senator Edward Markey, ending a heated primary race for Markey's Massachusetts Senate seat. I am filled with hope for the future of our country and our planet because of the young people who are rising up to demand a Green New Deal. — Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) September 2, 2020 Though incumbents normally win their elections, there was something more at play in the Bay State. Kennedy started the election polling ahead of Markey by double digits. And there was a reason he was expected to win: no Kennedy had ever lost an election in the state of Massachusetts, the state that birthed the careers of John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, and Ted Kennedy. It looked like he would oust Markey, ending his over four decades in Congress.   But though Markey was not known as a progressive per se for the majority of his career, he was the Senate co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, progressive superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's House bill, and a supporter of Medicare for All. He hit Kennedy on the very thing that made him popular: his family name. "Tell your father right now that you don't want money to go into a super PAC that runs negative ads," he said in one debate. Perhaps most famously, he concluded one ad, which stressed his roots as the son of a milkman, flipping JFK's most famous line on its head. "It's time," the senator said, "to start asking what your country can do for you."   Kennedy, meanwhile, struggled to articulate to voters why, exactly, he wanted the job. To say "generational change" wasn't enough when younger voters themselves were some of the strongest supporters of Markey, and it is harder to argue that one's opponent is out of touch with the common man and woman when one is literally a Kennedy. A Kennedy ad toward the end of the campaign stressed the family name. "He reminds me of Bobby and Jack and Teddy," Ethel Kennedy, the candidate's 92 year old grandmother, told the camera. But, even in Massachusetts, that isn't enough anymore.    It is unlikely the United States has seen the end of political ambitions from the Kennedy family or even Joe Kennedy III individually. He may be leaving Congress in January, but he became a congressman in his early thirties and is still only 39. That he ran for the Senate at all suggests that he has dreams of bigger, more powerful things. But for at least one election, Massachusetts voters chose the son of a dairyman over a dynasty. 

By New Statesman

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.