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Ed Markey refuses to criticize Joe Kennedy for possible primary challenge, says he’s ‘running hard’ for reelection

Senator Edward J. Markey (center) wouldn’t criticize Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III (shown speaking) for considering a primary challenge.Craig F. Walker/Globe Staff/File 2018/Globe Staff

WASHINGTON — Senator Edward Markey on Monday refused to criticize Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III for considering a primary challenge for Markey’s seat, reiterating that he was running for reelection no matter what “and running hard — on the issues that matter most to the people of Massachusetts.”

“I am running on the most important issues of our era,” he told the Globe in a phone interview, citing his track record on climate change, economic justice, and reproductive rights. “I am crisscrossing the state. I keep going nonstop because these issues are so important, and it is critical that I continue to lead because that is what the people of Massachusetts expect.”


His comments came as a potential showdown between Markey, 73, and Kennedy, 38, is threatening to trigger an intense intraparty fight at a time when a surge of Democratic voters are demanding younger and more diverse voices in Congress.

Markey declined to comment on the insurgency trend or his primary challengers, which already include two lesser known Democrats. He said he and Kennedy talk regularly and would continue to do so, but Markey would not divulge what those conversations have been about or whether Kennedy had asked him to retire.

Earlier Monday, Markey released a 90-second video of Senator Elizabeth Warren throwing her “full support” behind his 2020 reelection campaign. Markey would not say whether Warren had agreed to campaign with him or whether he believed she would remain in his corner should Kennedy jump into the race.

Markey only said that he was proud of Warren’s video statement and the fights they waged together as partners in Congress.

“It means the world to me that she is endorsing me and that she will have my back,” he said.

Markey remained steadfast on his determination to run and deflected questions about Kennedy. He stressed his reelection platform — gun safety, the Green New Deal, economic justice, and reproductive rights — saying he stood for “the issues of today.”


“I am energized by the threat that Donald Trump poses to everything that Massachusetts stands for,” he said when asked whether he felt politically vulnerable. “This is the most energized that I have ever been in my life.”

The Malden native was elected to the Senate in 2013 after serving in the House since 1976. Labor attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman and author Steve Pemberton have announced they will run against Markey in the Democratic primary.

Markey has been dogged in past campaigns with questions over how much time he spends living in Washington compared to his hometown. But on Monday, he said, “I was raised in Malden, Massachusetts, I have lived there my entire my life and I’m proud to come from Malden.”

Jazmine Ulloa can be reached at jazmine.ulloa@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @jazmineulloa.