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"A Kennedy is a Kennedy": Joe Kennedy III launches Senate challenge

Joe Kennedy III launches Senate bid
Joe Kennedy III launches Senate bid 01:02

Boston — Congressman Joe Kennedy III made his Senate challenge official on Saturday with an announcement speech in his ancestors' East Boston neighborhood. His speech targeted President Trump but made no explicit mention of his establishment Democratic rival, Senator Ed Markey.

The 38-year old Kennedy scion is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and great-nephew of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Ted Kennedy, who represented Massachusetts in the Senate for almost 47 years until his death in 2009. Kennedy is considered a rising star in the Democratic party – he was first elected to Congress in 2012 and was chosen to give the party's response to Mr. Trump's 2018 State of the Union.

Kennedy, flanked by his two young children and his wife, told the crowd corralled in a community center that the challenges the country faces are "far too urgent to sit and wait for somebody else to take it on."

"We have a Senate that instead of trying to harness the opportunity of every person in this country, they're trying to pull us back, and I'm running for the United States Senate to tear that down, to fight back," Kennedy declared.

APTOPIX Election 2020 Senate Massachusetts
Democratic U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., announces his candidacy for the Senate on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Boston. Kennedy will challenge incumbent Sen. Ed Markey in the Democratic primary. JOSH REYNOLDS / AP

Markey, 78, served in the House for nearly four decades before becoming a senator in 2012. He has already racked up the endorsements of influential Democrats, including 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who co-authored the Green New Deal with him.

Batting down suggestions of a campaign mounted on "generational change," Kennedy touted his consistent support of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and early backing of longtime mentor and presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren, who are both in their 70s.

"This is not specifically about age," Kennedy said. "I introduced Senator Warren when she kicked off her campaign for the presidency. This has nothing to do with age. This is about vision and leadership." 

Voter Jean Southerd from Mansfield, Massachusetts, challenged that notion. "I think the real question is, whether it's important for the younger generation to step up and the older generation just step aside, or whether the older generation's wisdom and experience needs to remain for a while," Southerd noted in an interview with CBS News. The longtime supporter and current constituent of Representative Joe Kennedy added, "I think it's more than particular policy differences. These two men both care about the same things pretty much."

Election 2020-Senate Massachusetts
Democratic U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, D-Mass., waves to supporters as he arrives with family members, from left, his son James Kennedy, 1, and wife Lauren Kennedy, in East Boston to announce his candidacy for the Senate on Saturday, Sept. 21, 2019, in Boston. Kennedy will challenge incumbent Sen. Ed Markey in the Democratic primary. JOSH REYNOLDS / AP

But Kennedy said he disagrees with Markey in a "number of areas." He specifically called out "structural reform." Additionally, he said "I think we need to get corporate PAC money out of our system. I rejected that. Senator Markey has not." 

In his pitch that echoed Warren's call for "structural change," Kennedy underlined constitutional reform and campaign finance as the cornerstone of his platform, calling for Supreme Court term limits and an abolition of the electoral college. "I look forward to seeing Senator Markey's views on that," he remarked. 

A recent Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll found Kennedy leading Markey in a hypothetical five-way primary matchup 35 percent to 26 percent. Labor Attorney Shannon Liss-Riordan and businessman Steve Pemberton have already announced Democratic primary challenges against Markey.

Massachusetts resident Robin Bevilackqua, a church administrator for the Greater Framingham, Community Church told CBS News she looks forward to witnessing the next chapter of America's most storied political dynasty. 

"For me, being a Kennedy fan, I would vote for Kennedy because I'm a fan of the core values of the family," she said with a shrug. "A Kennedy is a Kennedy."

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