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Kennedy outpaced Markey in Senate fund-raising race in final months of 2019

Senator Ed Markey (left) and Representative Joseph Kennedy III.

Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III raised more than $2.4 million over the last three months of 2019, outpacing incumbent Senator Edward J. Markey by about $1 million, according to preliminary numbers shared with the Globe by the Senate candidates’ campaigns.

Markey’s campaign said he raised more than $1.4 million in the final quarter of 2019, a total that represents the Malden Democrat’s best quarterly haul to date and a 30 percent increase from the prior three-month period.

Yet the top-line numbers indicate Markey — at least so far — hasn’t been able to match Kennedy, his chief Democratic challenger, when it comes to the crucial competition for cash. Kennedy’s larger total shows he has carried his national fund-raising prowess into the high-profile primary match against the incumbent, and that the contest has the potential to be among the most expensive congressional primary races in the country.


“These increased results reflect the growing support for Senator Markey’s work in the Senate on climate change and gun safety and most importantly assures that we will raise the resources necessary to run a successful campaign,” said John Walsh, Markey’s campaign manager.

A spokesman for Brookline labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan, who is also competing in the primary, did not respond to an inquiry about her fund-raising numbers. Federal fund-raising reports must be filed by later this month.

Nearly $1 million of Kennedy’s end-of-year haul came from Massachusetts, according to his campaign, and more than three-fourths of the contributions were $50 or less.

“These strong fund-raising numbers reflect a powerful, growing base of support across the Commonwealth,” said Nick Clemons, Kennedy’s campaign manager.

That means that Kennedy raised more than $1 million from donors outside of the state, a sign that he has been able to tap national networks he developed as a top fund-raiser and campaign surrogate for House Democrats in recent cycles.


Kennedy entered 2020 with $5.5 million cash on hand, up from $4.3 million at the end of the previous quarter. Markey has $4.4 million cash on hand, roughly the same as where he was at the end of the previous quarter.

Candidates use their war chests for everything from paying staffers to buying television and digital advertisements and lawn signs.

The candidates’ numbers reveal they each spent more than $1 million in the final three months of 2019.

On Jan. 1, Kennedy’s campaign announced three new campaign offices — bringing the total to four — in Lowell, Roxbury, and Worcester, and that they’ve assembled a team of more than 20 people, including many field organizers fanned out across the state.

Kennedy managed to drum up all that cash while maintaining a busy campaign schedule. He visited more than 70 cities across the state in the roughly three months following his official campaign launch. He plans to hold 14 town hall events in January, including two that will be conducted entirely in Spanish.

Markey’s public schedule has been somewhat thinner than Kennedy’s, but there are signs he may be picking up the pace. He made six campaign stops on Saturday.

Kennedy and Markey’s fund-raising numbers suggest the Democratic primary could rank among the most expensive 2020 Senate primaries.

In addition to the hefty bank balances accrued by Kennedy and Markey, Liss-Riordan had $2.8 million on hand at the end of the previous quarter and has put in at least $3 million of her own money into the campaign.


Other competitive Senate races around the country have seen larger collective fund-raising totals, but those races in most cases include well-funded incumbents from opposing parties.

The 2020 Senate race in Maine, for instance, was already close to surpassing $13 million in total fund-raising by the end of September, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. But the majority of that total — more than $8.6 million — was money raised by GOP incumbent Susan Collins. One Democratic contender, Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon, raised $4.2 million, but also faces at least three opponents for the Democratic nomination.

Contact Victoria McGrane at