U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy has said several times that he intends to run for re-election next year, but now a group of Democrats is trying to draft him to go for the Senate instead.
A Senate run would pit him against fellow Democrat Ed Markey, D-Malden, who some progressives are looking to replace despite his liberal record.
Kennedy’s campaign released a statement Tuesday saying he is sticking to his re-election plans.
“Congressman Kennedy is humbled by the support of so many folks in Massachusetts. As he has said, he is running for re-election in the 4th District,” the statement read.
Without mentioning Kennedy, Markey’s office issued a statement that did not sound like he is backing down from seeking a return to the Senate.
“Senator Markey is fighting the hateful and destructive Trump agenda every day in the Senate and is as committed as ever to standing up for the values that define Massachusetts — universal health care, equal rights, the Green New Deal, access to opportunity for everyone. He is excited to run for re-election,” the statement said.
The idea that Kennedy, whose congressional district includes the Attleboro area, would challenge a senior, incumbent Democrat in a primary was just talk until two weeks ago when reports surfaced that someone had done a statewide poll that asked about a Kennedy-Markey match-up.
The person or group that paid for the poll is unknown, but now there is a draft movement.
A Facebook page, website and an electronic petition drive have all been launched to draft Kennedy.
Declaring themselves “Ready for Joe,” group members say they are progressives who admire Kennedy’s positions on health care, climate change, gun violence, and what he calls “moral capitalism,” or economic justice.
“We need Joe Kennedy III in the United States Senate. He has the energy, courage, integrity and progressive ideas,” the website, www.readyforjk3.com, states.
The site and Facebook page are full of praise for Kennedy, D-Brookline, and feature photographs of cute kids holding signs that read, “Run Joe Run.”
Kennedy has represented the 4th Congressional District since 2013, succeeding former Rep. Barney Frank, who retired.
He is the son of former congressman Joe Kennedy II and the grandson of the late U.S. Attorney General Robert Kennedy.
Markey, 73, is in his first term in the Senate but spent 37 years in the House.
He fits the profile of some senior Democrats who have recently lost their seats to younger challengers from their own party, although Kennedy is better known and more experienced than those successful newcomers.
Most notably, two 20-year veterans of the House lost to little-known primary opponents last year. Rep, Mike Capuano, the former mayor of Somerville, lost to Ayanna Pressley, and Rep. Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., lost to then bartender Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.