To Run or Not to Run? That Is the (Pretend) Question for JPK III.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

I guess it's possible to believe that U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy, III, is truly agonizing over his decision to challenge U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey in the Democratic primary next year.

It's also possible to believe that Donald Trump's face looks orange on TV because of Obama-mandated energy efficient lightbulbs (as the president told fellow Republicans yesterday in Baltimore).

Me, I'm keeping it simple.  This is the great-grandson and namesake of the patriarch of the Kennedy political dynasty.  If it seems like he's dragging out this decision to keep hogging the media spotlight, create suspense for the moment when he inevitably announces he's running, and torture his future opponent, it's because he is.

Old Joe wouldn't have had it any other way.

Joe the Third, most would agree, looked like a Senate candidate today when he left the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention in Springfield and walked across the street to address supporters at a "Jump in Joe" meet-and-greet, even though he coyly told them it was "not an easy thing" to make a decision on challenging Markey.  They no doubt felt his pain.

Markey has been in the Congress for 43 years -- longer than JPK III has been alive.  He's been a good senator, and before that, a good U.S. Rep.  There's no mandatory retirement age and no term limits for members of Congress.  Why shouldn't Markey run for re-election?

And why shouldn't anyone who dreams of replacing him run, too, despite hand-wringing from the likes of Barney Frank.  Frank and many others see a Kennedy-Markey primary in 2020 as a pointless, massive, destructive waste of Democratic campaign resources (money), given how ideologically close these two are.

House Speaker Robert DeLeo, a man who always thinks before he speaks, who always chooses his words carefully, had it right this past Monday when he was asked by the State House News Service if he will stand by the re-election endorsement he gave to Markey before JPK III told the world he was thinking of taking Markey on.

"I've known the senator since he was a congressman in my particular district," DeLeo responded.  "Known him for a period of time, respect the work he did.  In addition to that, I have to say I've also worked with and known Congressman Kennedy, as well, and respect the work he does in Congress, but I would also intend to keep my commitment to Senator Markey."

SHNS reporter Matt Murphy asked DeLeo if an intraparty fight for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts could be harmful to Democrats?  He would not be surprised to hear some people say that, DeLeo said, but he doesn't see it that way.

In our democracy, he said, "Everyone and anyone has a right to choose to run for whatever seat they wish to do so -- and that's the democratic way."

Joe Kennedy's great-grandson told reporters in Springfield today he doesn't "think primaries are something people should shy away from."

I'd think that, too, if I were a boyish 38 years old, had a beautiful head of auburn hair, and the Kennedy mystique emanated from me like a mysterious light.

Unlike his great-grandfather, young Joe is no businessman.  But it's not hard to see him sending a trusted underling to Markey one morning fairly soon with this message: "The boss says, 'It's nothing personal.  He's always liked you. It's just business.' He's announcing at noon."