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As He Mulls Challenging Markey, Rep. Kennedy Creates A Senate Campaign Committee

U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III at WBUR in early 2018 (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III at WBUR in early 2018 (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III on Monday confirmed he's mulling a U.S. Senate run, and created a "Kennedy for Massachusetts" Senate campaign committee.

Writing on Facebook, Kennedy confirmed reports he is weighing a challenge of his fellow Massachusetts Democrat, U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, next year.

He said he hasn't yet reached a decision about his 2020 plans.

"I hear the folks who say I should wait my turn, but with due respect — I'm not sure this is a moment for waiting," Kennedy wrote. "Our system has been letting down a lot of people for a long time, and we can't fix it if we don't challenge it. I've got some ideas on how to do that. And I don’t think our democratic process promises anyone a turn. What it does promise is the chance for anyone to earn it — if we think we have something to offer and are willing to put ourselves and our ideas out there."

About a half hour after his Facebook post went up, Kennedy filed a statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission creating a "Kennedy for Massachusetts" Senate campaign committee.

Describing himself as "humbled by the words and actions of so many people supporting my potential candidacy," Kennedy — the 38-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy — said he planned to "spend the next couple of weeks" talking to voters and "trying to figure out if this campaign is right for me and right for Massachusetts."

Kennedy was first elected to the House in 2012.

Speaking at an event Monday, Markey told reporters: "I'm running hard [for re-election] on the issues that the people of Massachusetts care about."

Markey has spent the last several days announcing a blitz of endorsements, gathering an early slate of backers that includes U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the Sunrise Movement, the Coalition for Social Justice and the League of Conservation Voters Action Fund.

And on Sunday, the Boston Globe first reported that John Walsh, a former chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, will become Markey's senior campaign director.

Markey was first elected to the Senate in a 2013 special election after 37 years in the U.S. House. Markey did not face a Democratic primary challenger in 2014, and in the 2013 election defeated U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch with 57% of the vote. Before that, he had last faced an opponent from within his own party in 2002.

So far this cycle Markey has at least two declared opponents from within his own party: Shannon Liss-Riordan and Steve Pemberton.

Kennedy's entrance in the Senate race would shake up that field and clear the path for a slew of potential congressional candidates interested in the seat he holds but wary of taking on an incumbent.

A July telephone poll asked respondents about a potential Markey/Kennedy match-up, and about a Democratic primary field that consisted of Markey, Kennedy, Liss-Riordan, Pemberton and state Attorney General Maura Healey, who has not expressed an interest in running.

There's plenty of time for candidates to decide whether to run. May 5 is the deadline for candidates for Congress and statewide offices to submit their nomination papers to local officials.

As of the end of June, both Markey and Kennedy had a little more than $4 million in their campaign accounts.

With reporting by State House News Service's Katie Lannan and WBUR's Benjamin Swasey

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