Some 40 years later, in his quest to unseat Sen. Ed Markey, Congressman Joe Kennedy III stepped into the footsteps of his late great uncle. He failed to answer the question at the crux of every campaign: Why me? Voters these days are looking for more than a storied name; they want candidates who have a strong message and can deliver real change. Markey made the sale very effectively.
While this was a sui generis election of sorts, the race serves as a lesson in the importance of political fundamentals. Markey’s campaign was anything but conventional, yet he delivered on fundraising, communications and organization. What was there to dislike in his campaign? Not much.
In truth, Kennedy has been a solid member of the House and was growing into one of its bright stars. While he is out of elective politics for a while, he can still have a meaningful impact in changing the country’s direction. The Kennedys will still shine bright in history, but Tuesday night they did lose some of their luster.
Clearly, the moment belongs to Markey. Without abandoning his principles or priorities, after running a clean race and delivering the first ever defeat of a Kennedy in a Massachusetts election, Markey returns to the Senate with more influence than ever. There are a good number of folks in Massachusetts (where I am living these days) who have been despondent about our politics. Markey’s victory will give them fresh hope.