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Beacon Hill Lining Up Behind Sen. Markey, As Rep. Kennedy Ponders Run

Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.
Jesse Costa
Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey.

U.S. Representative Joe Kennedy III continues to consider whether to challenge Senator Ed Markey in the 2020 Democratic primary. 

Respondents to a recent online poll commissioned by Commonwealth magazine put Kennedy's support at 42%, compared with Markey at 25%.

Katie Lannan, State House News Service: In addition to his trip to Springfield last week, he was also out in Newton where one of our reporters and several other reporters caught up with him. And he said at that time that he's going to take as long as it takes to make his final decision, saying that if he is going to jump in, he's got to be all in and he's got two kids under four.

But he did say he won't prolong the decision any longer than necessary. It's anyone's guess what "necessary" means to the Congressman. He did potentially tip his hand last week when he formed a Senate campaign committee.

Carrie Healy, NEPR: Regarding time, there's more than a year to go before that potential showdown, although some state lawmakers are already getting involved, many endorsing Markey. Is that just to be expected?

I'll tell you, it is quite a number, and I think anytime you have more than half of the legislature, — 116 in this case, 72% of the Democratic members — lining up behind any one thing, it's a little unexpected.

But, you know, Ed Markey has been in office — in the Senate and in Congress before that — for a long time, for as long as Joe Kennedy has been alive.

And he's got good relationships here. He's often in Massachusetts at events that lawmakers care about. He was at the Woman's March after President Trump's election. He's often out here on environmental issues. And he really has a similar ideology to many of the people here on Beacon Hill.

And he heads a lot of progressive initiatives right now.

That's right. Notably the Green New Deal with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. That's a that's a big headline right there.

On Beacon Hill last week, passionate activists from both sides of the issues related to guns packed the Statehouse when legislators took testimony on dozens of gun-related bills. You were there. Did you hear any new arguments for or against legislation?

You know, we hear a lot of the same points on this issue, regardless of when it's discussed. You have the gun owners bringing up their Second Amendment rights and the concerns of a gradual erosion there, as you pile on laws. And you hear parents and advocates concerned about safety, both of students and schools, that kind of thing, and of the kind of less-prone-to-national-headlines, more routine, sadly, violence in cities.  

There's really a sense here from a few lawmakers, including some on the committee, that that element of violence faced by communities of color and in city neighborhoods, can't be forgotten in whatever the legislature ultimately opts to pursue as their next step on gun policy.

Though the legislature is not expected to be rushing back to Beacon Hill after the holiday today, there are some working groups and high-profile agenda items that lawmakers will be working on this week. What are some of the matters up for consideration?

Well, one of the big things that's expected to draw a bit of a crowd is a hearing from the transportation committee on September 4th that will focus just on one bill filed by Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier from out your way and Senator Brendan Crighton from Lynn. And that bill would allow undocumented immigrants to be able to get driver's licenses in Massachusetts, something that supporters say is really a matter of safety. You want people on the roads to be trained and insured. But some people have opposition to [the bill] on immigration policy related grounds.

We also have the education committee, which is still working on their major funding reform package, [which] will be holding a hearing as well on on a variety of bills as we kick off the back-to-school season.

Keep up here with Beacon Hill In 5.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.
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