Joe Kennedy builds on his fundraising advantage over Ed Markey in first quarter of 2020

The two Democrats both raised less money over the last three months compared to the previous quarter, which their campaigns attributed to the "unprecedented" coronavirus outbreak.

Rep. Joe Kennedy III and Sen. Ed Markey during the first Senate primary debate hosted by WGBH News in Boston. Meredith Nierman / WGBH via AP, Pool

Despite not actively fundraising for the last two weeks, Rep. Joe Kennedy III is building on his fundraising advantage over Sen. Ed Markey in the Massachusetts Senate primary race, according to figures from both campaigns.

In a memo Wednesday afternoon to supporters, Kennedy campaign manager Nick Clemons announced that they had raised $1.95 million during the first quarter of 2020 and had a total of $6.2 million.

Markey campaign manager John Walsh told Boston.com in a statement Wednesday night that the incumbent senator had raised $1.2 million and had $4.4 million in cash on hand at the end of the quarter — roughly the same amount he had entering the year.


Both campaigns raised less money than they had during the previous quarter, which they attributed to the sweeping effects of the coronavirus outbreak. Kennedy had raised $2.4 million in the fourth quarter of 2019; Markey had raised $1.4 million.

The campaigns are required to file first-quarter reports with the Federal Election Commission by April 15.

Clemons said Wednesday the Kennedy campaign was happy with the haul from the three months, given the circumstances. In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, the Massachusetts congressman had announced on March 13 he would temporarily suspend campaign activities, including fundraising.

“We are proud of this number, given that we have not actively fundraised since March 18 — no events, no fundraising emails, no formal solicitations of any kinds,” Clemons wrote in the memo obtained by Boston.com, adding that the “vast majority” of the funds were raised in January and February, prior to Gov. Charlie Baker declaring a state of emergency on March 10 due to the outbreak.

That said, Clemons did acknowledge that the campaign plans to begin actively fundraising again heading into the second quarter.

“Don’t expect to see a steady stream of urgent fundraising requests in your inbox — we intend to continue using our platforms primarily to share COVID-19 information and resources,” he wrote. “But we take our obligations to our staff and vendors seriously. We need to cover paychecks, health care, and bills — so our team is taken care of, and also so we maintain the infrastructure we need to win in September.”


Markey’s campaign, which had continued to fundraise through the end of the month, noted that the senator had also been sidelined due to the Senate impeachment trial of President Donald Trump in February. In a fundraising email Tuesday, the Malden native noted that both the coronavirus outbreak and the impeachment trial had resulted in the cancellation of some in-person fundraisers.

“Given the unprecedented circumstances faced this quarter, including Ed Markey’s duty during the impeachment trial in January and more recently the coronavirus outbreak, we are grateful to our supporters who continued to provide the resources necessary to run a robust grassroots campaign,” Walsh said.

The crippling pandemic has brought both campaigns to a virtual crawl — closing offices and postponing a debate — as the two elected Democrats turned their focus to addressing its serious economic and public health impacts. The two candidates have also been staging live-streamed discussions about the coronavirus response, and Kennedy’s regular online broadcasts, featuring his family and high-profile guests, have received national attention.

“This is our new normal,” Clemons said, noting the outbreak isn’t expected to taper anytime soon (Kennedy himself has called for a national shelter-in-place order to blunt its spread).

“We know we will need to resume some basic campaign activities in the weeks ahead, but we are putting a lot of time and thought into how we do that in a way that reflects Joe’s deep belief that little else matters right now except keeping the people we love safe,” Clemons said. “For the most part, we anticipate that this campaign is going to continue to look a lot like it has the past few weeks.”


Markey’s campaign never stopped its political activity, but shifted to remote work and “person-to-person” organizing — rather than large-scale events — in adherence with social distancing rules.

“It is only with a robust and engaged democracy that we can mobilize to address the greatest challenges we face,” he wrote in a Medium post last month.

In the midst of the pandemic, Walsh cited Markey’s advocacy for larger cash relief payments for Americans and more protective equipment for the doctors and nurses on the front lines (both of which Kennedy has also supported). He also thanked the campaign’s organizers for their “incredible work” during the “unprecedented public health crisis.”

“They are working to ensure that the voters of Massachusetts are informed of the legislative work that their senator is doing everyday to deliver for the Commonwealth,” Walsh said. “An informed electorate matters; now more than ever.”


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