U.S. Senate candidates get primed for primaries

  • Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, left, D-Mass., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., candidates for the Democratic nomination to the U.S. Senate, participate in a debate on Aug. 11 in Boston. POOL PHOTO/AP

Staff Writer
Published: 8/30/2020 6:09:24 PM
Modified: 8/30/2020 6:09:26 PM

As Tuesday’s state primary election nears, incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey is in a tight race against challenger U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III in the Democratic primary for one of the state’s two seats in the U.S. Senate.

Markey has aligned himself with the party’s left, receiving the backing of U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York, as well as groups including the youth-led environmental justice organization Sunrise Movement. He also has received the support of Western Massachusetts’ two congressmen, Rep. Richard Neal and Rep. Jim McGovern, as well as his senatorial counterpart Elizabeth Warren.

Kennedy, meanwhile, has received backing from prominent members of the Democratic establishment — most notably, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the late civil rights icon U.S. Rep. John Lewis. Others backing Kennedy are local state Sens. Eric Lesser and Adam Hinds, and U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, who chairs the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

The candidates and their outside supporters have spent millions of dollars on the race. Markey has raised $11.6 million and spent $10.3 million, while Kennedy has raised $8.7 million and spent $11.5 million, according to campaign finance filings with the Federal Election Commission. The pro-Markey super PAC (political action committee) United for Massachusetts has spent $2.7 million on the election, while the pro-Kennedy New Leadership super PAC has spent $3.5 million.

On the Republican side, there are also two candidates, though in a deep blue state they have struggled to garner much attention or campaign cash. Scott Brown was the last Republican to be elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts after he defeated then-Attorney General Martha Coakley in a 2010 special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat. Before Brown, Massachusetts hadn’t elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1972.

Scientist Shiva Ayyadurai is facing off against business lawyer and political newcomer Kevin O’Connor in the Republican primary.

Ayyadurai has run on a more hard-line immigration policy, as well as public funding for charter schools and school vouchers; he has criticized the “ivory tower of American academia.” Recently, he has been criticized for spreading conspiracy theories about COVID-19 and opposing strategies backed by health experts, such as mask wearing orders.

O’Connor has pitched himself as an ally to police departments, coming out against efforts to steer law enforcement funding to other causes and legislative attempts to end qualified immunity for police. He has also billed himself as a supporter of the Second Amendment and restrictive immigration policies.

Ayyadurai has raised $1.7 million and spent $1.4 million, while O’Connor has raised $402,634 and spent $276,876, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

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