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Trump supporters gathered on Saturday in Clackamas, Ore., a Portland suburb, before long lines of pickup trucks waving Trump flags drove toward the city’s downtown.
Here’s what we’re watching in the hotly contested Massachusetts Senate race.
Which is less likely: an incumbent legislator with strong progressive credentials losing the Democratic primary in Massachusetts, or a well-liked Kennedy family scion losing a race that he had seemed well positioned to win just weeks before?
Either outcome would be a surprise — but one is sure to come true on Tuesday, when Senator Ed Markey, 74, faces off against Representative Joseph Kennedy III, 39.
Even before Kennedy officially announced his candidacy last September, polls showed him leading Markey by double digits. Widely considered a rising figure in the party, Kennedy was selected by leadership to deliver the Democrats’ rebuttal to Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018.
Kennedy’s Senate campaign has picked up endorsements by the score, including from the House’s top Democrats, Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.
But Markey’s liberal record — especially his role last year as an author of the Green New Deal — has helped him retain the staunch support of many left-wing voters. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, his partner in drafting the bill, threw a lifeline to Markey’s campaign when she recorded an advertisement on his behalf in late July. “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts,” she said. “It’s the age of your ideas.”
Since then, things have swung in Markey’s direction. A recent Suffolk University poll showed him leading Kennedy by 10 points.
Markey has not always flown the flag of progressivism quite so proudly. Kennedy has pointed out that, as a congressman, Markey opposed school busing in the 1970s, supported the 1994 crime bill and voted for the Patriot Act of 2001 and the Iraq war authorization. But in the Senate, Markey’s voting record thus far has been among the most liberal in the chamber.
“Markey has done a very skillful job of reinventing himself,” former Representative Barney Frank, who served alongside Markey in the House, dryly told our reporter Jonathan Martin. “As a politician, I have admiration for the skill he’s done it with.”