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Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) participated in a livestreamed debate Sunday night. (Photo: Ed Markey for Senate/YouTube)

Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) participated in a livestreamed debate Sunday night. (Photo: Ed Markey for Senate/YouTube)

'We Have Never Endorsed You,' Sunrise Movement—Which Backs Ed Markey—Reminds Joe Kennedy III

"It is now day 309 of trying to figure out why Kennedy decided to run for Senate. He obviously doesn't even know either."

Jessica Corbett

The youth-led Sunrise Movement reiterated the climate advocacy group's support for Sen. Ed Markey on Sunday night after the Massachusetts Democrat compared endorsements with his primary challenger, Congressman Joe Kennedy III, during a livestreamed debate.

Markey, the lead Senate sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution, said that "the Sunrise Movement, which is the heart of the Green New Deal, they have rallied to my side. They're young people in college and high school and middle schools—just rallied all across the state, all across the country."

After listing a number of other supporters of his run—including the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the Human Rights Campaign, NARAL, and Planned Parenthood—Markey added that "this is a movement built around the progressive groups in our country but led by young people who are rallied because of this climate crisis."

"Senator, of course those organizations have endorsed you," Kennedy, responded. "They endorse incumbents. Almost all of them have endorsed me in every race that I've had, too."

The Sunrise Movement tweeted a video of the exchange with a clear message for Kennedy: "We have never endorsed you."

The group also said that young people want Markey re-elected and pointed out that most of the candidates that Sunrise has endorsed are challengers not incumbents.

Progressive activist Jordan Uhl also noted the exchange in a series of tweets, calling it a "weird moment for Joe Kennedy" and sharing a screenshot of Sunrise's 2018 endorsements.

Sunrise endorsed Markey in August 2019, about a month before Kennedy formally announced his challenge to the incumbent, and the group has stood by the senator, who spent nearly four decades representing Massachusetts in the U.S. House before being elected to the upper chamber in 2013.

In a statement announcing Sunrise's endorsement last year, movement co-founder and executive director Varshini Prakash explained that "six years ago, Markey first earned my vote by standing with indigenous communities, farmers, and young people across North America as one of the first national politicians to oppose the Keystone XL Pipeline in his first run for United States Senate."

"Senator Markey knows that to achieve the unprecedented scale of transformation that the Green New Deal calls for and the climate crisis requires, we will need an unprecedented coalition of workers, young people, and communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and our broken economy—and that the policies must be designed with those communities at the tables shaping them," she added.

On Sunday, in addition to reiterating Sunrise's support for Markey, the group took to Twitter to highlight another moment from the debate, when Kennedy says of his competitor, "I think the senator has worked very hard for his constituents."

Markey and Kennedy's primary is still officially scheduled for September 1, but because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some voters may be casting ballots by mail as early as this week.

As the Boston Globe put it: "September 1 is no longer primary day, now it's just the last day state residents can vote in the primary. So for some chunk of voters, Sunday night wasn't the first in a final stretch of three debates, but possibly the final debate they watch before they cast a ballot in their mailbox."

Although polls in September showed Kennedy 14 point ahead, his lead dropped to six points in February and "there hasn't been reliable public polling on this race in months," the newspaper noted. "Both campaigns seem to acknowledge that Kennedy is winning and that the campaign is tightening—it's just where in single digits the campaign is that is in question."

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