SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy III will formally announce his primary challenge against U.S. Sen. Ed Markey on Saturday, a source with direct knowledge told WPRI 12.
Kennedy’s decision has been anticipated for weeks after he confirmed his interest in the seat. The 38-year-old has led Markey by double-digits in early public polling.
The prospect of a primary battle between Markey, a four-decade veteran of Congress, and Kennedy, a scion of the state’s most prominent political family, has electrified Massachusetts politics. It promises to be an expensive race, and a divisive one among Democrats.
Markey’s campaign director, John Walsh, issued a statement saying the incumbent will continue to focus on “climate change, income inequality, gun reform, universal health care, reproductive freedom, and immigrant rights.”
“Elections are about choices, and Ed looks forward to spending the next 14 months campaigning hard every day to show the people of the Commonwealth why he’s the right choice,” Walsh said, adding, “From lowering drug prices for our seniors, to expanding opioid treatment and recovery services, to creating green jobs for our workers, Ed Markey is ready to continue the fight for Massachusetts.”
Kennedy’s decision to run also means there will be an open race in 2020 for the 4th Congressional District, which stretches from Fall River through the Attleboros and Taunton up to the Boston suburbs. Kennedy has represented the district since 2012.
Treasurer Deb Goldberg, a Brookline Democrat, had already filed paperwork to run in case Kennedy switched races.
“The treasurer is still considering how she can best serve voters,” Samantha Dallaire, a spokesperson for Goldberg, told WPRI 12. “As we have said, Treasurer Goldberg is in a decision-making process that involves talking to friends, family and advisors. This week she has had productive conversations with leaders and activists across the 4th Congressional District and will continue to do so.”
State Sen. Paul Feeney of Foxboro, another potential Democratic candidate, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.
Former Fall River Mayor Will Flanagan, a Democrat, posted a tweet noting that his city would now have an open House seat along with an emoji of a thinking face, suggesting he will consider a run.
State House News Service reported Democrat Jesse Mermell, the head of the Alliance for Business Leadership and a former top aide to Gov. Deval Patrick, will launch a campaign for Kennedy’s House seat “within days.”
Among Republicans, state Rep. Shawn Dooley of Norfolk has been frequently mentioned as a potential candidate. He did not immediately have a statement Wednesday night about a possible run.
The Boston Globe first reported Kennedy’s plans.
Ted Nesi (email@example.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