Over the weekend, Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III’s campaign put out a press release condemning Senator Edward J. Markey for failing to acknowledge several Massachusetts towns in a Markey campaign map that sought to highlight his accomplishments for the state’s 351 municipalities.
“Strangely the towns/cities of Stoughton, Blackstone, Dana, Dudley, Enfield, and Prescott do not exist in Markey’s Massachusetts,” read part of the Kennedy campaign’s press release, issued Sunday ahead of a Senate primary debate and titled “MISSING MARKEY.”
The problem, of course, is that the towns of Dana, Enfield, and Prescott don’t exist in anyone’s Massachusetts: The towns are located at the bottom of the present-day Quabbin Reservoir. Dana, Enfield, and Prescott ― along with the town of Greenwich — were unincorporated, razed, and flooded in the 1930s to create the reservoir, which today supplies drinking water to 3 million people. About 2,500 people were displaced by the construction, according to the state Department of Conservation and Recreation.
“We regret the silly error,” Kennedy communications director Emily Kaufman said in a statement to The Boston Globe on Monday. “But to be clear, we don’t think Senator Markey has been present in the 351 cities and towns that are above water either.”
The campaign used a list of cities and towns from the Massachusetts secretary of state’s office that included the four now-unincorporated towns, and missed a note that indicated the towns were no more, according to a Kennedy campaign aide.
The press release was issued in response to a map rolled out by the Markey campaign that highlighted the incumbent Democrat’s work by town, allowing voters to see legislation or funding that affects their community by clicking on their area on a map. Kennedy’s campaign countered that the map instead highlighted a lack of a presence in the state, and unduly took credit for the work of other members of the delegation.
“Senator Markey has been leading and delivering for all 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts that are not underwater. Apparently it’s easier for Congressman Kennedy’s campaign to find baseless political attacks than Massachusetts cities and towns,” Markey campaign press secretary Liz Vlock said in a statement to the Globe Monday afternoon.
As the final weeks of the campaign between the two Democrats get underway, the race has become acrimonious. During a debate on Sunday night, the two candidates sparred in occasionally heated exchanges, with Kennedy challenging Markey on the length of time he spends in the state, and Markey questioning whether Kennedy is motivated by political ambition or his beliefs.
The final day for voters to cast their ballots is Sept. 1, and the vote-by-mail period is already underway.