Many New Jerseyans will be watching the results of today’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary in Massachusetts, where 74-year-old incumbent Edward Markey faces Joe Kennedy III, 39, a four-term congressman and the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy.
Former New Jersey political reporter Steve Kornacki, now a mega national star on NBC News and MSNBC, says a Kennedy has never lost a primary in Massachusetts.
To put Markey’s length of service into some New Jersey perspective: when he was elected to the Massachusetts legislature in 1972, Tom Kean was the Assembly Speaker, Bill Cahill was the governor, and Richard Codey was still one year away from winning his first election. Markey went to Congress in 1976, the same year Harold Hollenbeck defeated Henry Helstoski for the House.
Kennedy started the race with a double-digit lead in independent polling, but Markey has been ahead since July and has sported a lead in the last six polls.
Kennedy raised $141,670 from New Jersey donors, as of his latest filing with the Federal Election Commission.
He visited Monmouth County in March to raise money at an event headed by Senate Majority Conference Leader Vin Gopal (D-Long Branch).
Middlesex County Democratic Chairman Kevin McCabe, powerbroker Maggie Moran, Assemblyman Tom Giblin, State Sen. Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) and Essex County Clerk Christopher Durkin were the hosts of the fundraiser.
Two Democratic National Committeemen from New Jersey, John Graham and Tonio Burgos, each wrote Kennedy checks. So did his New Jersey cousins, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) and NJ-2 Democratic congressional candidate Amy Kennedy.
Joe Kennedy boosted his cousin’s chances of winning the NJ-2 primary when he appeared at a virtual event for her before the Democratic primary.
Markey has raised $42,112 from New Jersey-based contributors, including actress Meryl Streep, former Rep. Rush Holt (D-Hopewell), and Burgos.
It’s not immediately clear how or if the Massachusetts Senate primary will affect New Jersey’s 2nd district congressional race.
Massachusetts is likely to be a safe seat for either Kennedy or Markey in the general election, so either way, moving past the primary might open up fundraising opportunities for Amy Kennedy from the vast family network that has been primarily focused on Massachusetts.
If Joe Kennedy loses, it would make Amy Kennedy a must-win as America’s most famous political family seeks to secure at least one victory this cycle.