Much has been made over the last several months of Edward Markey’s 47 years in elective office.
To Joe Kennedy III, who is challenging the incumbent Markey in the Democratic U.S. Senate primary, it’s a sign the Malden native has been in office too long.
We disagree. Throughout his nearly five decades of public service, beginning as a state representative in 1973 before being elected to Congress in 1976 and the Senate in 2012, Markey has shown an appetite for thorny issues from gun control to nuclear disarmament to judicial reform. He deserves a chance to face the winner of the Republican primary in November.
This isn’t a case of a younger candidate seeking to push aside a staid, conservative incumbent. Even at 74, Markey remains in the progressive camp. In fact, he and Kennedy, 39, share the same views on most issues.
With such broad agreement, we have to look to drive and experience. Kennedy, the four-term congressman from the 4th District, has run an energetic campaign while attempting to paint his opponent as distant and out of touch. It is an unconvincing argument. While Markey doesn’t possess the Kennedy charisma, he has long been deeply involved with issues that have a direct effect on the lives of everyone in Massachusetts.
Markey, for example, is the Senate sponsor of the Green New Deal, which seeks to reshape the national economy around renewable energy and other environmental initiatives. While we have considerable reservations about the plan -- it reads more like a wish list than a realistic blueprint -- there is no disputing Markey’s expertise on the subject of climate change. Over the years, he has pushed the nation to increase the efficiency of its appliances and its cars, reduce greenhouse gases and invest in climate-resilient infrastructure.
Make no mistake -- climate change is one of the leading issues facing the residents of the North Shore and Merrimack Valley, as a bleak report from the Trustees of Reservations, released earlier this month, makes clear. More than 600 buildings on the North Shore could experience tidal flooding within 10 years, the report said, and more than 7,000 will flood if there’s a 100-year storm. By 2070, 400 acres of the Great Marsh could be lost for good.
And despite Kennedy’s assertions, Markey has been involved in issues specific to the region, for example, by rolling up his sleeves in the aftermath of the gas disaster. Markey initiated congressional hearings and co-sponsored important legislation to tighten safety requirements for natural gas companies.
Those aren’t the actions of a senator who is out of touch. We believe Democrats should stick with Markey and his decades of experience.