Donald Trump weighs in on Ed Markey’s primary win over Joe Kennedy

"They even elected a person that nobody ever heard of."

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Sen. Edward Markey after signing a bill to combat opioid trafficking, at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 10, 2018. Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images

President Donald Trump has some thoughts on Sen. Ed Markey’s primary win over Rep. Joe Kennedy III.

During a campaign event Thursday night in Pennsylvania, the Republican president argued that Markey’s victory Tuesday over Kennedy is an example of how the “radical left has captured” the Democratic Party, despite the fact that the two Massachusetts Democrats did not have any major policy disagreements.

Trump also said that “nobody ever heard of” the incumbent senator, even though he himself donated to Markey when the Malden native was a congressman — and more recently signed one of the Democratic senator’s bills into law.


Nevertheless, Trump attempted to use the 74-year-old senator’s successful defense of his seat against the 39-year-old scion of the Kennedy political legacy as part of his effort to paint Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden as further left on the ideological spectrum than most evidence would suggest.

“The radical left has captured the party,” Trump said Wednesday in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, pivoting to Markey’s win.

“They even elected a person that nobody ever heard of, a senator, it’s been a while, against a young, good-looking Kennedy by 10 points in Massachusetts,” he said. “Did you know Kennedy lost in Massachusetts? Do you know why? Because he wasn’t a radical left. He was a like a semi-normal person, just slightly left.”

Trump’s remarks Thursday followed a similar tweet Wednesday morning in which he knocked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for endorsing Kennedy.

The president’s take, however, doesn’t exactly align with the true contours of the Massachusetts Senate primary race. While both Markey and Kennedy have shifted to the left in recent years, the nationally watched campaign was mostly fought over who had the track record and ability to advance a progressive agenda, rather than ideological differences.

For his part, Markey was able to use his co-authorship of the Green New Deal resolution on climate change with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to reintroduce his 44-year-long record in Congress to young and progressive voters, who ultimately helped carry him to the historic victory.


“While Donald Trump is unfamiliar with what it feels like to win the popular vote, Ed Markey is not,” Markey campaign spokeswoman Liz Vlock told Boston.com in a statement Friday.

“On Tuesday, voters overwhelmingly came out to support Ed Markey to be the Democratic nominee for Senate because of his record of leading and delivering for the Commonwealth and because of the need to pass a Green New Deal,” Vlock said.

Markey was initially considered an underdog in the race against Kennedy in part due to his under-the-radar profile. However, Trump’s statement that “nobody” ever heard of the senator also betrays the fact the president himself should be familiar with Markey; the former New York real estate magnate — who historically donated to Democrats, including thousands of dollars to former Massachusetts Sens. John Kerry and Ted Kennedy before more recently entering Republican politics — donated $500 to Markey’s congressional campaign in 1990.

As president, Trump signed a 2018 bill written by Markey to give border patrol agents additional technology to help them identify and seize illegal fentanyl. The two usually opposed elected officials even shook hands and appeared together during a bill-signing ceremony in the Oval Office.

Of course, Markey is hoping Biden is the one signing his bills during his second term in the Senate. During his primary victory speech, Markey said “priority number one” for the progressive movement “is to remove Donald Trump from the White House.”


“Donald Trump can pretend all he wants that he doesn’t know Senator Markey,” Vlock said Friday,” but on Election Day, Trump will never forget how the diverse, grassroots coalition of progressive Markey supporters put him out of a job.”

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