Joseph Kennedy III forms exploratory committee for possible US Senate campaign

Key Points
  • Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has formed an exploratory committee for a possible U.S. Senate run against Democratic incumbent Ed Markey, according to a Federal Election Commission filing and campaign aides.
  • The filing shows a committee titled "Kennedy for Massachusetts" and that Kennedy is targeting a seat in the Senate.
  • Aides insist Kennedy has not made a decision about entering the race.
Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.)
Paul Morigi | WireImage | Getty Images

Rep. Joseph Kennedy III has formed an exploratory committee for a possible U.S. Senate run against incumbent Sen. Ed Markey, according to a Federal Election Commission filing and campaign aides.

The filing shows a committee titled "Kennedy for Massachusetts" and that Kennedy is targeting a seat in the Senate. However, aides say that this is to support his exploratory phase of potentially running for Markey's seat. They insist Kennedy has not made a decision about entering the race against his fellow Democrat.

Filings show that Kennedy's congressional fund has raised just over $850,000 in the early stages of the 2020 election cycle and has over $4 million on hand. Markey's principal campaign committee has brought in $1.9 million and has close to $4 million on hand.

In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Kennedy, 38, said Monday that over the last few weeks he's started considering running for Senate and that he's received support for his potential candidacy. Paperwork for the exploratory committee was filed Monday, as well.

Still, even though he hasn't confirmed that he's running, creating such a committee often precedes the official launch of a campaign. Kennedy crafted an exploratory committee before he first ran for Congress in 2012.

Markey, 73, won a special election in 2013 to replace John Kerry, who succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of State under President Barack Obama. Markey was elected to a full term in 2014. Before his time in the Senate, he spent more than four decades in the House.

Markey's campaign did not return a request for comment.

While Markey has gathered a slew of high profile endorsements, such as from fellow Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who is also running for president, Kennedy is part of powerful and prestigious political legacy.

He is the grandson of former U.S. attorney general and presidential contender, Robert F. Kennedy, and the great nephew of former President John F. Kennedy. Both were assassinated in the 1960s.

The Kennedys also have a history of dominating in elections within their home state, especially when it comes to primaries. During Kennedy's 2012 primary for his congressional seat, he took 90% of the vote and almost equaled that vote tally six years later when he ran against another candidate from his own party. The late Sen. Ted Kennedy also fared well in primary battles, including in 1962 when he defeated Massachusetts Attorney General Edward McCormack Jr.

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