With one day to the primary election, candidates are making their final pitches to Massachusetts voters, who have a chance to pick a nominee to represent their party in the U.S. Senate as well as four of the state's nine congressional districts.
In one of the nation's most watched U.S. Senate contests, incumbent Sen. Ed Markey is looking to keep his seat while Congressman Joe Kennedy III tries to oust him.
Kennedy will stop in western Massachusetts to meet voters before heading to Worcester Monday, then ending his day with an outdoor rally in Dorchester. Markey will begin his day with a rally in Brookline, then another in Mattapan, before ending his day with a final campaign rally in West Roxbury.
A poll released Wednesday by the UMass Lowell Center for Public Opinion found 52% of respondents supported Markey and 40% backed Kennedy, with 6% undecided and 2% favoring another candidate. That was outside the poll's margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.
A second poll by Suffolk University released Wednesday found a 10-point lead for Markey, also outside the poll's margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The winner of Tuesday's primary will move on to November’s general election contest in a district that has historically favored Democrats. The candidate will face the winner of a low-key GOP Senate primary pitting Kevin O'Connor, a lawyer, against fellow Republican Shiva Ayyadurai, who ran a failed campaign for Senate in 2018.
Despite verbal sparring that has escalated in recent weeks between the two candidates, they largely agree on many issues, from abolishing the Electoral College to extending benefits to immigrants in the country illegally who lost jobs in the pandemic. Both have also stopped short of calling for defunding police departments, but have said there's a need to balance spending on police and other needs such as schools.
Kennedy has leaned into his family history more heavily in recent weeks, including former President John F. Kennedy, former U.S. Senator and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy -- his grandfather -- and former U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, who held a Senate seat in Massachusetts for nearly half a century until his death in 2009.
Kennedy said he began discussing his family in response to Markey, who during one debate told Kennedy he should tell his father - former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy II - not to help fund a political action committee that was going after Markey.
Kennedy's reference to his family history has prompted Markey to recall his own family story growing up in working-class Malden, where his father drove a truck for the Hood Milk Co.
"I could see my mother and father trying to figure out how to pay the bills at the kitchen table," Markey said. "I know that families all across Massachusetts are struggling with those bills right now."
Ironically, the weight of the Kennedy legacy has helped Markey, first elected to Congress in 1976, position himself as an underdog and a progressive firebrand. He's been endorsed by New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with whom he teamed up to introduce the Green New Deal climate change initiative.
Kennedy, promising a new generation of leadership, also picked up a high-profile endorsement, but from a more establishment figure: Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi's embrace of Kennedy has irked some supporters of Markey, who were angry at her decision to endorse in a Democratic primary.
More Coverage on Markey, Kennedy Race
The winner of Tuesday's primary will move on to November’s general election to face the winner of a low-key GOP Senate primary
Meanwhile, Democratic voters in four of the state's nine congressional districts will have a chance to pick a new nominee to represent their party during Tuesday's Massachusetts primary.
In three districts, challengers from within the party are hoping to bump incumbent Democratic U.S. House members out of the running.
In one _ the state's 4th Congressional District _ voters will choose from seven Democrats hoping to fill the seat left vacant by Kennedy's decision to challenge Markey.
In the 1st Congressional District, incumbent Rep. Richard Neal is trying to fend off a challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse.
Morse, 31, has positioned himself as a progressive alternative to the 71-year-old Neal, who was first elected to represent the sprawling western Massachusetts district in 1988. Morse has the backing of New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, while Neal has the endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The race has been marked by allegations of inappropriate sexual contact with students by Morse when he was an adjunct professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Morse has said his relationships with college students were consensual.
In the 4th Congressional District, the crush of Democratic candidates actively seeking Kennedy's seat has whittled down to seven after two candidates pulled out of the running. Those remaining are Jake Auchincloss, Becky Grossman, Alan Khazei, Natalia Linos, Isshane Lecky, Jesse Mermell and Ben Sigel.
They hail from a range of backgrounds including former members of the military, immigrants, political veterans and those with backgrounds in the nonprofit sector.
Auchincloss served as a captain in the U.S. Marines and was elected to the Newton City Council in 2015. Grossman is also a member of the Newton City Council and served as an assistant district attorney in Middlesex County.
Khazei co-founded City Year, an educational nonprofit, with his roommate at Harvard Law School and went on to help create Americorps under the Clinton administration. Linos is a social epidemiologist and executive director of the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at Harvard University.
Lecky, a self-described democratic socialist, was born in Morocco, immigrated to the United States and became a Wall Street regulator. Mermell is a former Brookline select board member and one-time aide to former Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick.
Sigel has worked for the Democratic National Campaign Committee and describes himself as the proud Jewish son of a Puerto Rican Mother.
The campaign has been rambunctious, with candidates crisscrossing the district -- sometimes virtually -- to try to drum up votes. The district winds from the Boston suburbs of Newton and Brookline south through Attleboro, Taunton and Fall River.
Two Republicans are also running -- Julie Hall and David Rosa. Both are veterans and face a uphill challenge in a district that has historically supported Democrats.
In the 6th Congressional District, which includes Salem, Gloucester and Newburyport, two Democratic challengers -- Jamie Belsito and Angus McQuilken -- are hoping to oust incumbent Rep. Seth Moulton, a Marine Corps veteran who saw combat in Iraq and who mounted a brief campaign for president last year.
Belsito, a self-described progressive, founded the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance, which advocates nationally for better maternal health policies. She has pledged to address maternal health and infant mortality.
McQuilken co-founded the Massachusetts Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence after the 2012 massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. He has pledged to prioritize economic recovery, health care access, education and gun violence prevention.
In the state's 8th Congressional District, which stretches from portions of Boston south to Bridgewater, Robbie Goldstein, a 36-year-old South Boston resident, is challenging longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch.
Goldstein, an infectious disease specialist and doctor at Massachusetts General, said he's had a front row seat to what he considers the federal government's disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He also sees himself as part of a wave of younger Democratic candidates trying to push the party toward a more progressive agenda.
Lynch, a former iron worker and labor leader who was born and raised in South Boston, is hoping to retain the seat he's held since 2001. Lynch has pitched himself to voters as a fighter for working families.
Because ballots must be in the hands of local election officials by 8 p.m. Tuesday, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, a Democrat, has urged voters who requested mail-in ballots to deliver them by hand to local election officials, their local polling location or local drop boxes.
More Coverage on the Massachusetts Primary
While primary day is Tuesday, at least 1 million Massachusetts voters have opted for mail-in ballots this year