In the Endorsement Battle with Joe Kennedy, Ed Markey Is Winning

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Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III elbow bumps Sen. Edward J. Markey after their debate at the Western Mass News station in Springfield, MA on June 1, 2020. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Per tradition over here at Boston, the usual disclaimer: Endorsements tell only part of the story in a campaign, but they do show where allegiances lie, and help candidates define themselves in concrete terms by the company they keep. In the particularly heated race between Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy III for Markey’s Senate seat, endorsements have become especially valuable, and controversial.

For Markey, earning support from the likes of Elizabeth Warren helps him identify himself as the more progressive candidate in the contest, while emphasizing his ties to 30-year-old Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and co-authorship of the Green New Deal helps deflate the pitch from Kennedy that the incumbent is too old and entrenched to represent the interests of young voters.

Kennedy, meanwhile, has some fairly prominent colleagues in Congress along for the primary ride, most notably John Lewis, the late civil rights icon and congressman, and Rep. Joaquin Castro, chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

For what it’s worth, Reps. Ayanna Pressley and Seth Moulton, who each won their seats by challenging incumbents, have both said they will not be endorsing in the primary, which will be held on Sept. 1, with mail-in ballots in the works for those who don’t want to vote in person.

Some of the most contentious moments of the campaign so far have revolved around endorsements, in ways that have tended to put Kennedy on the defensive. Kennedy announced, then abruptly canceled, a virtual campaign event featuring Broadway stars after the celebrities pulled out of the fundraiser under pressure from Markey stans online (in response, Kennedy’s campaign fired off a testy statement condemning what it called a coordinated “cyber-bullying” campaign fueling the fracas). His team also lashed out at the Boston Globe after its editorial board endorsed Markey this week, attempting a rhetorical judo move by dismissing the paper as serving “disproportionately white, well-off, well-educated readers” and framing its backing of Markey as support for “the status quo.”

In terms of sheer volume of support from powerful allies, the advantage clearly goes to Markey. How much that will matter in the end is unclear, but it’s possible it could tip a very tight race in his favor. Polls have shown Kennedy with a slight lead, and on fundraising, both campaigns are roughly even. Perhaps more important will be two twin forces that have historically proved powerful in Massachusetts politics: Markey is an incumbent, and Kennedy is a Kennedy. But in a race that’s all about defining who these men are beyond those two factors, here is the state of play for endorsements:

Endorsements for Ed Markey

Elizabeth Warren

Other members of the MA Delegation


Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Sens. Cory Booker, Chuck Schumer

My friend @EdMarkey is one of the most respected voices for progressive change in all of Washington. I am so proud to endorse him for re-election.

Head over to and get involved with his campaign. Please help send Ed back to the U.S. Senate.

— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) June 22, 2020

The Boston Globe Editorial Board

I am very grateful to be endorsed by the @BostonGlobe.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) July 28, 2020

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh

I’m running on my record of delivering for people and communities everywhere in Massachusetts. That record has earned our movement the support of some of the most passionate leaders in our state and I am honored to have them fighting alongside us.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) January 29, 2020

Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone

In @EdMarkey, MA has a Senator on the leading edge of the climate fight and technological innovation. Along w/ @ewarren he has set a new standard for Senators being champions for our local communities. I will be voting enthusiastically for Ed Markey.

— Joseph A. Curtatone (@JoeCurtatone) July 28, 2020

Other Mayors

Attorney and Climate Activist Zephyr Teachout

This seems like a good time to endorse Ed Markey, Green New Deal champion, in his reelection campaign.

— Zephyr Teachout (@ZephyrTeachout) March 13, 2020

Boston City Councilors Ricardo Arroyo, Kenzie Bok

Boston City Councilor @KenzieBok and I stand together in the fight for transportation and housing justice. We share a common goal of making our communities equitable, safe, and sustainable and I am grateful to have her endorsement in this election.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) July 21, 2020

Tom Steyer

The last time Tom Steyer dabbled in #mapoli, it was to run ads pushing Rep. Richard Neal to impeach President Donald Trump. Now Steyer is endorsing Sen. Ed Markey for reelection

— Stephanie Murray (@stephanie_murr) June 29, 2020

Mike Dukakis

Michael and Kitty Dukakis are the embodiment of the bold, progressive values that have made the Democratic Party what it is today. I could not be more grateful for their support.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) January 28, 2020

State Senators

State Representatives

Carole King

Carole King makes a video for Ed Markey, says “you’ll have a friend in the Senate”

— Robert Costa (@costareports) June 24, 2013

Jane Fonda

We must put our most vulnerable communities first as we address this pandemic and the impacts it will have on our country. No one can be left behind. Thank you @Janefonda for having me on the first virtual @FireDrillFriday.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) April 1, 2020

Our Revolution

“We don’t always need to elect a new Democrat. We have some great Democrats who are currently serving our nation and one of them is Ed Markey.” – Hal Ginsberg, Our Revolution Organizer@OurRevolutionMD @ourrevpdx@SenMarkey #OrganizeToWin

— Our Revolution (@OurRevolution) June 29, 2020

Sunrise Movement

We have never endorsed you @joekennedy.

Also, the majority of our endorsement slate is filled with challengers, not incumbents.

Young people have spoken, and we want @EdMarkey in the Senate, not you.

— Sunrise Movement 🌅 (@sunrisemvmt) July 27, 2020


.@UNITEHERE26 endorses Massachusetts Senator @EdMarkey for re-election #1u #mapoli

— UNITE HERE Local 26 (@UNITEHERE26) February 14, 2020

Ed Markey picks up a key labor endorsement in his Senate primary race against Joe Kennedy. The Massachusetts Teachers’ Association – the NEA affiliate in Massachusetts – endorsed Markey today. @lauracrimaldi reports via @BostonGlobe

— Eric Davis (@EricDavisMiddVT) July 25, 2020

Gloria Steinem

I am so grateful to have @GloriaSteinem‘s support. Her activism and leadership helped transform our country into a more equitable place and I am tremendously thankful to have her as a partner as we continue this fight.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) August 6, 2020

Ken Burns

I am truly honored to receive the endorsement of @KenBurns, a brilliant, thoughtful documentarian and progressive changemaker.

— Ed Markey (@EdMarkey) August 5, 2020

Endorsements for Joe Kennedy III

The late Rep. John Lewis

Rep John Lewis on Joe Kennedy: “He is a clear voice for justice and dignity in our rising generation of public servants. I am proud to endorse his run for the U.S. Senate.” #MASenateDebate

— Tess Register to Vote Herdman (@tess_herdman) July 26, 2020

Rep. Joaquin Castro

“Joe Kennedy fights for the rights and dignity of everyone, and he’s dedicated to building a more inclusive country where everyone can achieve their dreams,” Castro said. “On multiple occasions, Joe took action and came to Texas on our southern border to see firsthand the faces of those devastated by the Trump administration’s cruel and inhumane immigration policies. Joe is the kind of strong leader we need in the U.S. Senate.”


Other House Dems

Rep. Mark Pocan
Rep. Raul Grijalva.
Rep. David Cicilline
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson
Rep. Joyce Beatty
Rep. Marc Veasey
Rep. Joaquin Castro
Rep. Juan Vargas
Rep. Filomen Vela
Rep. Linda Sanchez
Rep. Gil Cisneros
Rep. Derek Kilmer
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick
Rep. Annie Kuster
Rep. Conor Lamb
Rep. Stephanie Murphy
Rep. Veronica Escobar
Rep. Norma Torres
Rep. Ruben Gallego
Rep. Adriano Espaillat
Rep. Colin Allred
Rep. Lauren Underwood
Rep. Elissa Slotkin
Rep. Angie Craig
Rep. Pete Aguilar

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema

Kyrsten Sinema says she would back Kennedy in Senate race against Markey

— The Hill (@thehill) September 12, 2019

Boston City Councilor Matt O’Malley


IBEW Local 103, which was one of the early unions in candidate Ayanna Pressley’s camp is getting behind Congressman Joe Kennedy, as are the Teamsters.

— Andy Metzger (@MetzgerBot) September 3, 2019

Firefighters are working 48-hour shifts, and putting their lives at risk each and every time they respond to a call. All while lacking essential equipment.

||| Frontline Report with Rich MacKinnon
||| President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts

— Joe Kennedy III (@joekennedy) April 8, 2020


Grateful for Mayor Fuller’s endorsement and her steadfast commitment to Newton, my hometown. It’s been an honor to work with you these past eight years, and I look forward to continuing our partnership in the Senate.

— Joe Kennedy III (@joekennedy) July 7, 2020

Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins

Honored to be endorsed by Sheriff Steve Tompkins of Suffolk County. His leadership on criminal justice reform & the fight against the opioid crisis is crucial to our community & commonwealth. #mapoli

Happy to have you on #TeamKennedy

— Joe Kennedy III (@joekennedy) October 21, 2019

State Reps. Chynah Tyler, Jon Santiago, Jeff Roy

Spent the day with Rep. Chynah Tyler in Nubian Square visiting local businesses and walking around the community….

Posted by Joe Kennedy III on Monday, July 6, 2020

He’s been “woke” since I met him in the @PeaceCorps so many years ago. @joekennedy went above & beyond the call of duty to help the poorest in the region. No cameras. No media. No one watching. Just a tremendous desire to serve the underserved.

— Jon Santiago (@IamJonSantiago) June 23, 2020

I’m with @joekennedy because of his dedication to his constituents, his empathy, his intellect, his compassion, and his commitment. That’s why I’m #TeamKennedy and will be casting my vote for him on September 1.

— Jeffrey N. Roy (@jeffroy) July 28, 2020

State Sen. Eric Lesser

State Sen. Eric Lesser is officially backing Rep. Joe Kennedy in bid for Sen. Ed Markey’s seat @masslivenews @joekennedy @ericlesser #mapoli

— Ben Kail (@BenKail) November 8, 2019

Other State Senators

Adam Hinds
Paul Feeney
Diana DiZoglio
Joe Boncore
Mark Montigny

Former City Councilor Tito Jackson

@ the rally last night, I impressed upon young peaceful protestors how very vital their vote is @ every level & how normal is not good enough, we MUST do better. That is why I am supporting @joekennedy for Senate. We need a Senator who shows up, cares, listens & acts. #mapoli

— Tito Jackson (@titojackson) June 3, 2020

Boston Activist Monica Cannon-Grant

“I think oftentimes we have people advocate for us but they never want to talk to us,” said Monica Cannon-Grant. “They talk about our community but they don’t come visit and actually get to know the people and see what the real disparities are. One of the things I appreciated about Joe was that he was honest about the parts he was unaware about, and he was willing and open to learn. He was willing to listen to the people who are actually doing the work. With Joe, one of the things I appreciated the most was that he went on a tour of just listening. It was a listening tour.”


Former Governor Bill Weld

It might not be the endorsement @joekennedy is looking for, but the former GOP governor of Massachusetts has some thoughts:

“I’m for Kennedy,” Bill Weld told Washington Post reporters today. “I’ve known him since the day he was born.”

From @AnnieLinskey:

— Matt Viser (@mviser) September 19, 2019

Merrow Manufacturing CEO Charlie Merrow

.@joekennedy here in Fall River w @merrow_machine CEO Charlie Merrow, who’s endorsing Kennedy. Says he’s put time into understanding South Coast manufacturing issues

Merrow has shifted to PPE production in recent months, hiring 85 people to make surgical gowns, masks etc #mapoli

— Ted Nesi (@TedNesi) August 6, 2020

Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta

We need social and economic justice for all.

Join @DoloresHuerta and I for a conversation today at 4pm.

— Joe Kennedy III (@joekennedy) August 5, 2020

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