House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has endorsed U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III in his bid to unseat her former colleague, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey — throwing her weight behind the challenger with just days left in their heated primary battle.
“Never before have the times demanded that we elect courageous leaders as today,” Pelosi said in a video announcing her endorsement. “He knows that to achieve progressive change, you must be on the front lines, leading movements of people. Massachusetts and America need Joe Kennedy’s courage and leadership in the Senate to fight for the change we need.”
Nancy Pelosi is a force. No one has done more to take on Donald Trump and build our Party’s future. Proud and humbled to have her with me in this fight. pic.twitter.com/xyMudb1ROB
— Joe Kennedy III (@joekennedy) August 20, 2020
Pelosi — who spent decades working alongside Markey, 74, when he was in the House — praised the 39-year-old Kennedy as the future of the Democratic Party and said he will “help lead Democrats forward on the defining battles of our time.”
The highest-ranking woman in government, who tapped Kennedy to deliver the Democratic response to President Trump’s first State of the Union, also touted his work helping elect Democrats across the country to help take back the House in 2018.
Kennedy, in a statement, called Pelosi “a force and a changemaker” and said he’s “beyond grateful to have her in my corner.”
Markey issued a statement through his campaign, saying, “Any candidate would be proud to have her endorsement, and I congratulate Congressman Kennedy on securing her support.”
Pelosi’s backing should give Kennedy a boost as he remains locked in an incredibly close race against Markey with less than two weeks until the final votes are cast. A recent SurveyUSA poll of likely Democratic primary voters put the pair neck-and-neck with Markey taking a slight lead at 44% to Kennedy’s 42%, within the poll’s margin of error. Of the 558 voters surveyed, 15% remained undecided even as mail-in ballots are already being returned and early in-person voting starts Saturday.
Pelosi’s decision to throw her support behind Kennedy is an interesting — and unusual — move for the powerful figure who typically defends House incumbents against challengers. It pits Pelosi directly against Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. And it’s inflamed the scores of progressive politicians and activist groups who have endorsed Markey.
Ocasio-Cortez swiftly fired off a tweet saying, “No one gets to complain about primary challenges again,” while Justice Democrats, the group that helped propel Ocasio-Cortez’s rise, blasted the endorsement as “hypocrisy.”
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins, who is also backing Markey, tweeted, “So @SpeakerPelosi can insert herself in our US Senate race, but @AyannaPressley was not a speaker at the convention? Nancy, the future of the Democratic Party is NOT a privileged, legacy candidate. It is @RepPressley @RepAOC @Ilhan and @RepRashida.”
So @SpeakerPelosi can insert herself in our US Senate race, but @AyannaPressley was not a speaker at the convention? Nancy, the future of the Democratic Party is NOT a privileged, legacy candidate. It is @RepPressley @RepAOC @Ilhan and @RepRashida. I’m chapSTICKIN’ WITH ED. 👏🏼
— DA Rachael Rollins (@DARollins) August 20, 2020