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Kennedy Dynasty's 'Camelot' Crumbles in First-Ever MA Congressional Defeat

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U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III became the first in his storied political family to lose a run for Congress in Massachusetts, falling short in his bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in a hard-fought Democratic primary.

Secretary of State Bill Galvin filed a petition with a state court on Wednesday asking for more time for cities to count ballots that they received in time but still hadn’t tallied because of the flood of mailed-in votes.

Markey harnessed support from progressive leaders to overcome a challenge from his younger rival, a grandson of Robert F. Kennedy. With 98 percent of the vote counted, his margin of victory was nearly 11 points.

The Kennedy legacy hung over the race, especially in the closing weeks, when Kennedy more explicitly invoked his pedigree, including President John F. Kennedy; his grandfather, former U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy; and former U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who held a Senate seat in Massachusetts for nearly half a century until his death in 2009.

Kennedy’s father, Joe Kennedy II, held a Massachusetts seat in Congress from 1987 to 1999.

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Kennedy, looking deflated, told supporters: “We may have lost the final vote count tonight, but we built a coalition that will endure because this coalition, our coalition, is the future of a Democratic Party.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had endorsed Kennedy, and President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday: “See, even a Kennedy isn’t safe in the new Radical Left Democrat Party. … Pelosi strongly backed the loser!”

Kennedy’s defeat is also a loss for the national Democratic Party’s bank account.

The scion of one of the country’s most famous political dynasties was popular among high-dollar donors well beyond Massachusetts. Kennedy helped raise millions of dollars for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the House Democrats’ campaign arm, during the 2018 midterm elections. He also stumped for more than a dozen other candidates.

Do you think a Kennedy will ever be elected to Congress again?

Markey appealed to voters in the deeply Democratic state by aligning himself with the liberal wing of the party. He teamed up with a leading progressive, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, on the Green New Deal and at one point labeled Kennedy “a progressive in name only.”

That helped Markey overcome the enduring power of the Kennedy name in Massachusetts.

The 39-year-old congressman had sought to cast the 74-year-old Markey as an out-of-touch politician after spending decades in Congress, first in the House before moving to the Senate.

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In his victory speech, Markey stressed his commitment to battling climate change.

“Every other problem is linked to it. No solution to any challenge will be successful unless we address it. There will be no peace, no justice and no prosperity unless we stop the march to climate destruction,” he said.

Markey said Democrats have to take back control of the U.S. Senate and oust Trump in November.

“He is the most corrupt, most racist, most incompetent president in American history,” Markey said. “We must banish his agenda of division and destruction to the history books.”

Markey now faces a general election contest in which he is considered a strong favorite against Republican primary winner, Kevin O’Connor, in November.

Other members of the extended Kennedy clan have lost congressional contests outside Massachusetts.

In 1986, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend lost a U.S. House race in Maryland, and in 2002, Mark Kennedy Shriver also lost a congressional primary in Maryland.

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