Joe K III’s Senate campaign is a platform for future ambitions
Joe Kennedy III needed the convention.
Not that he could have won it. He did not have the votes.
But he could have used it as a platform to explain to Massachusetts voters — especially Democrats — why he’d make a better U. S. Senator than incumbent Sen. Ed Markey, a fellow Democrat.
The cancellation of the May 30 convention due to the coronavirus pandemic was a setback for Kennedy even though he would have lost the endorsement to Markey.
Kennedy needed the convention more than Markey. Kennedy, 38, needed it to make a compelling speech to thousands of convention delegates — and to the public — about why they should dump Markey, 73, and send him to the U. S. Senate.
So far, he has had difficulty in making the case. A solid speech at the convention would have helped even though Markey would have won the party endorsement.
And while he is far from a polished speaker, Joe Kennedy could have reworked old Ted Kennedy speeches to explain what his candidacy was all about.
He could have lifted from Ted’s booming speech at the 1980 Democratic Party national convention when, after losing to Jimmy Carter, Ted talked about the Kennedy “dream that will never die.”
Or he could have taken from Ted Kennedy’s last speech ( he died in 2009) at the 2008 national convention, when Kennedy said to cheering Democrats, “ There is a new wave of change all around us, and if we set our compass true, we will reach our destination — not only victory for our party, but renewal for our nation.”
That was pretty good stuff, and it is the stuff that Joe Kennedy needs if he is going to defeat Markey. Foregoing that, Joe Kennedy could have made a splash by using the moment to attack the convention system itself, and how it has been manipulated by establishment Democrats to clear the field of unwanted challengers.
This is what happened in 2012 when party leaders, led by then party Chairman John Walsh, worked the convention to ensure that no challenger to Elizabeth Warren could get enough convention votes to appear on the September primary ballot to run against her.
Kennedy could also have made an issue that the same John Walsh is now running Markey’s campaign for re- election.
Instead of just agreeing that the convention should be canceled, Kennedy could have added, “ It was going to be rigged anyway.” But, being the nice guy that he is, he didn’t.
If Joe Kennedy is going to use the Kennedy name to run for the Senate, he should campaign like a Kennedy — vigorously. That means launching an aggressive campaign to show the public that he is fighting for the job and not waiting for it to be handed to him.
The alternative is the belief that he has no need to go for the jugular against Markey because he is a Kennedy.
That never stopped great uncle Ted when he went after Republican Senate challengers like Ray Shamie or Mitt Romney, or even Democrat Jimmy Carter. Ted Kennedy never took an election for granted.
Now there will be no convention and no other similar venue for Joe Kennedy to deliver that speech, if he was inclined to do so in the first place, and if he had the ability to pull it off.
Perhaps he can. With scant coverage of the campaign due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Kennedy name may be enough to win. Nobody is paying much attention to the boring campaign anyway.
So maybe, Kennedy, a fourterm member of the House from Newton, does not need to go after Markey. They are both progressives alike on practically all the issues, outside of campaign finance.
Maybe the name is enough.
Where they do differ is that Kennedy is new, and Markey has been in public office since before Kennedy was born.
They also differ in that Kennedy, once in the Senate, has the potential to run for president, Markey does not.
If elected to the Senate in 2020, Kennedy could run in 2024, using the Senate as a launching pad.
If he is still president, Donald Trump will be barred from a third term. If Joe Biden is president, he will be 82.
Joe Kennedy’s great uncle John F. Kennedy, then a Massachusetts senator, was 43 when he was elected president in 1960. Joe Kennedy will be 44 in 2024.
That is what this campaign is about.
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