NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — There’s a change at the top in U.S. Sen. Ed Markey’s office.

Rhode Island native Paul Tencher, who had been the veteran Democrat’s chief of staff since 2017, confirmed in an email he has left Markey’s Senate office to join his 2020 re-election campaign as a senior adviser.

Giselle Barry, a spokesperson for Markey, said a new chief of staff has yet to be named. She did not respond to a follow-up question asking who is doing the job in the interim.

Markey was elected to the Senate in 2013 to finish out John Kerry’s six-year term after Kerry became President Obama’s secretary of state, then won a full term in 2014. Markey is up for re-election next year, and two Democrats have already announced primary challenges against him: author Steve Pemberton and attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan.

(Politico reported Monday that a poll is currently being conducted to test how Congressman Joe Kennedy III would fare in a primary against Markey, though Kennedy aides continue to dismiss that possibility.)

Tencher will join the rest of the political team Markey’s campaign has put together: Carl Nilsson and Cheslie Ouellette of Field First for organizing; Colleen Coffey and Michael Pratt for fundraising; Saul Shorr and Adam Magnus for media; Jason Rosenbaum of Seward Square Strategies for digital fundraising and media; and Jef Pollock of Global Strategy Group for polling.

Tencher said he was “deeply grateful” to work for Markey.

“Our effort to launch a long-overdue debate around the Green New Deal and climate action is resonating around the country,” he said. “The fights to save net neutrality, combat the opioid crisis, strengthen our natural gas pipeline infrastructure, and so many more mean our families, businesses, and neighborhoods are safer, stronger, and have opportunities to thrive.”

Tencher’s first job in politics was chief of staff to former Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts. He also managed multiple Democratic U.S. Senate campaigns for candidates including Indiana’s Joe Donnelly and Michigan’s Gary Peters.

Tencher, whose Twitter bio now lists him as a strategy consultant, said in addition to his work on the Markey campaign, he will be “continuing to work on the causes I am passionate about, while spending a majority of my time at home in Rhode Island.”

Tencher has already been hired as a spokesperson for the group Keeping Jobs in Rhode Island, which was formed to marshal support for the proposed 20-year extension of IGT’s state gaming services contract.

Ted Nesi ( 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