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Progressive Democrats Look to Massachusetts for Next 2020 Primary Night Victories

"Today we vote for a future where clean air, healthcare, and a quality education are considered a human right; not a privilege."

Tufts student Jennifer Best bumps elbows with Senator Ed Markey as he campaigns on August 25, 2020 in Somerville, Massachusetts. (Photo: Matt Stone/ MediaNews Group/Boston Herald)

As Massachusetts voters head to the polls Tuesday, progressives are pinning their hopes on some high-profile races in the Bay State.

The contest for Sen. Ed Markey's seat has drawn out the differences in Democratic Party factions, as challenger Rep. Joe Kennedy has garnered the endorsement of more corporate-friendly lawmakers, including Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), in his bid to unseat the progressive incumbent.

Pelosi's support for Kennedy arrived despite a declaration last year from the party's congressional campaign arm that it would blacklist firms working for insurgents seeking to oust incumbents.

Markey allies—including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Medicare for All activist Ady Barkan as well as progressive organizations including the Sunrise Movement, Our Revolution and Indivisible—have come out in support of the Green New Deal champion.

In a race marred by scandal, Holyoke, Massachusetts Mayor Alex Morse—an openly gay champion of Medicare for All and other progressive issues—looks to unseat incumbent Richard Neal, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, for the state's 1st congressional district seat. After reporting revealed how local state Democratic Party leaders conspired with local college Democrats use Morse's sexuality as the basis for a a smear campaign against the 31-year-old mayor, his insurgent campaign was bolstered by endorsements from former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Jamaal Bowman, who upset 16-term incumbent Rep. Eliot Engel in New York in June, and San Juan, Puerto Rico Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, a surrogate for Sanders' presidential run.

Morse, Markey, and Robbie Goldstein, an infectious disease specialist and Medicare for All champion looking to unseat longtime incumbent Stephen Lynch in the state's 8th congressional district, all outraised their opponents in the final pre-primary filing period, raising hopes that progressives will continue to tally big wins this cycle.

Polls show Markey ahead of Kennedy in the U.S. Senate race, and a close race between Morse and Neal in the 1st district. Goldstein's campaign released an internal poll in August showing him behind Lynch by only 7 points.

"So the challenger might have a shot at an upset," Nathaniel Rakich and Geoffrey Skelley wrote for FiveThirtyEight Monday.

The race to fill Kennedy's U.S House seat in the state's 4th district is crowded and fairly open, with a new poll showing Newton City Councilor Jake Auchincloss and former Brookline select board member Jesse Mermell pulling ahead of the pack.

In a tweet Monday urging voters to cast ballots for Markey, the Sunrise Movement said, "Today we vote for a future where clean air, healthcare, and a quality education are considered a human right; not a privilege." 

Ryan Grim, part of the Intercept team who broke the story of the state Democratic Party's involvement in the Morse smear campaign, will be live on The Young Turks (TYT) tonight to cover results. TYT's schedule is here.

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