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Moulton mum on endorsing Markey in potential clash with Kennedy

BOSTON — While a grassroots movement is urging U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III to run for Sen. Ed Markey’s seat in 2020, North Shore’s congressman won’t say whom he will back.

U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton declined a request for an interview from The Item Sunday. But the Salem Democrat said in a statement he’s a result of a primary race against an incumbent Democrat and “primaries are healthy for our democracy.”

Moulton stands in contrast with most of the Massachusetts delegation. U.S Sen. Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Reps. Richard Neal, James McGovern, Stephen Lynch, William Keating and Lori Trahan have endorsed Markey’s bid for the party’s Senate nomination. A spokeswoman for Rep. Katherine Clark said she intends to make public endorsements at a later time. Clark and Markey are scheduled to hold a Green New Deal Town Hall meeting in Framingham on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. 

That leaves just two who won’t say: Moulton and U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley. They won their seats on Capitol Hill by unseating incumbents in Democratic primaries. 

In a stunning political loss, 20-year incumbent Michael Capuano lost last fall’s primary to Pressley, a Boston City Councilor. She went on to become the first black woman to serve Massachusetts in Congress.

Pressley could not be reached for comment. 

In 2014, U.S. Rep. John Tierney was seeking his 10th term in the 6th Congressional District, which includes Peabody and Lynnfield, when a U.S. Marine and Harvard Business School graduate defeated him in the primary. Moulton became the first Massachusetts Democrat to defeat a sitting congressman from the same party in two decades.

Moulton is seeking the Democratic nomination for president. But he has yet to reach 1 percent in the polls. 

Politico was the first to report last week that a draft Kennedy movement was underway. Dubbed “Jump in Joe,” the effort was organized by a half dozen liberal Democrats who launched a website, readyforjk3.com, and a Facebook page.

“This is a critical time for our nation,” the website said. “We believe the U.S. Senate needs a proactive progressive leader like Joe Kennedy III. This is not about the incumbent, but rather about the vision and leadership Joe can bring to the Senate. We are calling on him to jump in the race in 2020.

A member of the House of Representatives since 1976, Markey, 73, won a special election for Senate in 2013.

Markey faces at least two unknown candidates in the Democratic primary, labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton.

Kennedy, the 38-year-old grandson of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, graduated from Harvard University with a law degree and served as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County before he was elected to Congress in 2013.

Emily Kaufman, a Kennedy spokeswoman, said he appreciates the draft movement but is focused on seeking re-election.

“On the draft effort, Congressman Kennedy is humbled by the support from folks across Massachusetts,” she said in a statement. “As he has stated before, he is running for re-election in the 4th District.” 

But over the weekend, the New York Times reported a Democratic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Kennedy is weighing a campaign against Markey, and would decide in the coming weeks.

Material from Associated Press was used in this report. 


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