Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sits across from Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.) during a roundtable discussion about refugee and human rights at the Oxfam America Boston headquarters on Oct. 1, 2019.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) sits across from Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Mass.) during a roundtable discussion about refugee and human rights at the Oxfam America Boston headquarters on Oct. 1, 2019. (Photo: John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty Images)

Progressives Slam Oil-Soaked Steny Hoyer for Backing Joe Kennedy III Over Green New Deal Champion Ed Markey

"Hoyer does not actually have a problem with primary challengers, he has a problem with progressives."

Eoin Higgins

Progressives and climate activists expressed frustration with Democratic Party leadership after Politico reported Tuesday that House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer would be holding a virtual fundraiser for Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, who is challenging incumbent Sen. Ed Markey in the 2020 Massachusetts Democratic primary. 

Markey, who cosponsored the Green New Deal with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), has the support of youth climate group the Sunrise Movement, which cited Hoyer's affiliation with Big Oil in a scathing statement on the fundraiser to Common Dreams

"Steny Hoyer has received millions from oil and gas PACs and bundlers over his career, he's the number two highest recipient of fossil fueled electric utilities this cycle, and he recently tried to jam a Big Oil handout into the coronavirus relief packaged passed by Democrats in the House," said Sunrise's political director Evan Weber. "Given all that, it's no wonder that he'd prefer that the co-author of the Green New Deal doesn't win his re-election campaign."

As Common Dreams reported, Hoyer's ultimately unsuccessful advocacy for a fossil fuel bailout in the HEROES Act passed by Congress on May 15 earned the Maryland Democrat harsh criticism from his primary challenger, progressive Mckayla Wilkes.

"This is just one example of Congressman Hoyer's failure to approach the climate crisis with the urgency it requires," Wilkes said.

Journalist Kate Aronoff said on Twitter that while the move by Hoyer could be about political spats and party discipline, Hoyer's reliance on fossil fuel and utility industry donors can't be ignored as he raises money for the candidate trying to oust one of the Senate's biggest champions of the Green New Deal.

"I think generally this kind of stuff comes down to dumb turf wars and trying to discipline anyone who steps out of line," said Aronoff, "but it's also worth noting that electric utilities are some of Steny Hoyer's biggest donors."

On Tuesday, Wilkes told Common Dreams that Hoyer hosting a fundraiser for Kennedy flies in the face of over a year's worth of threats and blacklists by Democratic leadership against progressive challengers to incumbents in both the House and the Senate

"House Democratic Leadership has worked for over a year to disadvantage progressive primary challengers through the DCCC Blacklist," said Wilkes. "Now, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer is fundraising for a primary challenge against sitting U.S. Senator Ed Markey, the co-sponsor of the Green New Deal."

"The hypocrisy makes it crystal-clear," she continued. "Hoyer does not actually have a problem with primary challengers, he has a problem with progressives."

Sunrise Movement's Weber echoed those remarks, referring to House Democratic leadership's backing of "Trump's favorite Democrat" Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas) against primary challenger attorney Jessica Cisneros in the Lone Star State's primary on March 3. 

"It's pretty hypocritical for House leadership to make such a fuss about challenging incumbents in their chamber, and to go as far as to handicapping someone like Jessica Cisneros challenging pro-oil Democrat Henry Cuellar, but then go out of their way to back someone trying to oust the Democrats' most senior leader on climate in the Senate," said Weber. "What gives?"

Hoyer is being joined at the event with Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a Congressional Progressive Caucus vice chair, and Reps. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) and David Trone (D-Md.). The presence of Raskin irked healthcare advocate Timothy Faust, who tweeted it was a sign that "members of the CPC are throwing Ed Markey under the bus."

"This isn't like kneecapping Sanders—Markey is hardly a socialist; a senator who typifies the 'acceptable' kind of progressive to the Dem Party," said Faust. "They just are willing to take any opportunity to squish anyone left of center."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Indignation as Michigan Judge Drops Flint Water Charges Against GOP Ex-Gov Snyder

"The people of Flint deserve justice—and it's unacceptable that the people responsible for Flint's water crisis aren't being held accountable," said Food & Water Watch in response to the development.

Brett Wilkins ·

70+ Lawmakers Tell Biden 'You Can and You Must' Provide Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

"As president, you and your administration have a number of tools at your disposal to make sure rail workers are guaranteed paid sick leave," wrote the lawmakers.

Julia Conley ·

COP15 Biodiversity Summit Highlights 'Deadly' US Attitude Toward the World

"While others play by the rules, the most powerful nation refuses," writes George Monbiot. "If this country were a person, we'd call it a psychopath. As it is not a person, we should call it what it is: a rogue state."

Jessica Corbett ·

Final House Covid Panel Report Exposes 'Reckless' Trump Pandemic Response

The publication accuses top Trump officials of "failed stewardship" and a "persistent pattern of political interference" that undermined the nation's response to a pandemic that has killed more than a million people in the United States.

Brett Wilkins ·

As NYT Staffers Strike, Sanders Calls for 'New Ways to Empower' Workers Battling Industry Giants

"We need to rebuild and protect a diverse and truly independent press so that real journalists and media workers can do the critical jobs that they love, and that a functioning democracy requires," said the Vermont progressive.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo