After back-to-back visits, Fall River CEO backs Kennedy over Markey

SE Mass

FALL RIVER, Mass. (WPRI) — When U.S. Sen. Ed Markey took a campaign bus tour through Bristol County last month, one of his stops was Merrow Manufacturing in Fall River.

In recent months the 182-year-old maker of sewing machines has begun turning out PPE to aid the fight against coronavirus. Markey’s campaign staff quickly turned his visit into a polished digital video they posted to social media.

On Thursday, Markey’s Democratic primary rival — Congressman Joe Kennedy — made his own stop at Merrow, but he came away with more than a video: the family-owned company’s CEO, Charlie Merrow, announced he is endorsing Kennedy for the Sept. 1 primary.

“Both Joe Kennedy and Ed Markey are remarkable supporters of citizens of the Commonwealth,” Merrow told WPRI 12. But, he said, “Joe Kennedy has worked harder with me, has worked harder with the employees of this company, to help organize and support policies that will significantly impact Massachusetts moving forward.”

“I believe he is doing a better job of understanding exactly what we need to do … for not just Fall River and New Bedford and the South Coast but I believe for Massachusetts generally,” Merrow added.

Kennedy said he has gotten to know Merrow since he began representing Fall River in the U.S. House in 2013, and argued their relationship demonstrates the difference between himself and Markey.

“I have spent time here. I’ve shown up here. Charlie and I text fairly frequently,” Kennedy said. “Because Charlie’s here fighting for his employees and sees this enormous potential and opportunity to use this moment to grow a business that will contribute back to Fall River.”

Kennedy’s campaign swing through the Spindle City came as the hotly contested Senate primary enters the homestretch, with absentee ballots starting to land in voters’ mailboxes this week. Markey’s campaign manager, John Walsh, argues there has been a shift in momentum in recent weeks in favor of the incumbent despite Kennedy’s heavy spending on TV ads.

“We see a strong, progressive movement rallying around us because they know that Ed is the champion for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, and racial justice,” Walsh said late last month. “The momentum that we are seeing in the final weeks of the campaign is driven by the grassroots organizers and volunteers who are making the calls and talking to their friends and family.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook

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