By Jim EllisSept. 2, 2020 — The Massachusetts primary election was held yesterday, and Sen. Ed Markey recorded a strong double-digit victory over Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton) after a year-long campaign in the US Senate Democratic race, which, in the Bay State, is tantamount to winning the seat in November.
Sen. Markey’s victory spread landed at exactly 10 percentage points with an estimated 20 percent of the vote still outstanding, 55.5 – 45.5 percent, and the 131,651-vote margin left no doubt about the outcome. Turnout is just under 1.2 million Democratic voters and will go higher when late-arriving ballots are collected and counted. The total turnout could reach 1.5 million individuals, which would be higher than the March 3 Democratic presidential primary participation figure that fell just under 1.4 million.
The county largely responsible for the senator’s victory margin was his home county of Middlesex; with a total population figure of over 1.5 million people, it’s the state’s largest local entity. There, Sen. Markey recorded a 65-35 percent margin and an 88,858-vote spread, which accounts for two-thirds of his statewide vote difference. Sen. Markey scored majorities in 10 of the state’s 14 counties.
The only place Rep. Kennedy recorded a county victory outside of his 4th Congressional District was in western Massachusetts. He carried Hampden County, which houses the city of Springfield, and, rather surprisingly, Worcester County despite the flap that found the Kennedy campaign sending a mailer into the locality with the name spelled, “Worchester.”
Temporarily, at the very least, Rep. Kennedy’s defeat spells the end of the Kennedy family political dynasty in the state. In fact, according to the MSNBC network, this is the first loss for a family candidate in 27 Democratic primary campaigns dating back to when John F. Kennedy won the 1946 congressional primary in what was then the Boston area’s 11th CD.
Rep. Kennedy is the grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy, who actually never ran for office in Massachusetts. The elder Kennedy won his Senate seat from the state of New York. Ted Kennedy held his Massachusetts Senate seat after winning a special election in 1962 until his death in 2009.
In the Springfield congressional district, veteran Rep. Richard Neal, the chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, secured re-nomination to a 17th term with a 59-41 percent victory over Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse. Neal captured a 22,379-vote lead from more than 124,179 votes cast with still 12 percent of the precincts outstanding.
This was another highly competitive primary contest but, in this instance, the incumbent became the survivor and did not join his eight congressional colleagues from around the country who fell in this season’s re-nomination campaigns.
Two other incumbents who faced Democratic primary challengers, Reps. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) and Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) secured landslide wins, with the former man notching 77 percent and the latter 66 percent on their way to clinching new terms in the November election.
The closest election of the night, and one that may not be decided for several days if not weeks after all of the absentee and post-election ballots are received and tabulated, comes in Rep. Kennedy’s open 4th District that begins in the Newton and Brookline areas and stretches past Taunton and down into Fall River.
Here, former Brookline Town Selectwoman Jesse Mermell has just a 105-vote lead over Newton City Councilman Jake Auchincloss within a primary turnout of what will likely exceed 150,000 voters stretched over nine names on the ballot. It was predicted that the contest would come down to a battle between these two candidates, but it was unclear that the ending would be so close.
Earlier, Auchincloss appeared to be the front-runner, but he is more conservative than the rest of the field. Therefore, outside progressive left groups began running ads against him with the hope that his obvious major opponent, Mermell, would be able to outdistance Auchincloss. At the end of this final count, whenever that may be, it may prove that their strategy provided Mermell with just enough votes to claim victory.