The Massachusetts Democratic Party has the most important primary in the country going on now. Either Joe Kennedy or Ed Markey will be the next U.S. Senator.

This week the two candidates had a debate on WPRI12. The questions, posed by veteran journalists Tim White and Ted Nesi, were focused on the issues facing New Bedford, Fall River, Cape Cod, and the surrounding towns. They included the Chancellor of UMass Dartmouth, Dr. Robert Johnson, as a questioner of the two candidates.

Both campaigns are trying to show their dedication to the region and their grassroots support in the area. Part of their efforts include endorsements from local elected officials and Democratic Party activists who are influential on the SouthCoast.

Sen. Ed Markey has the strong support of the Coalition for Social Justice. This radical group comes out of the old world of Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground. Interestingly, the Weather Underground dedicated one of its books to Sirhan Sirhan, who murdered Bobby Kennedy, the grandfather of Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, who is running against Sen. Markey. The founder of the Coalition for Social Justice, according to his ex-wife, was a talent spotter of young radicals and helped facilitate their travel to Cuba in violation of the policy put in place by President John F. Kennedy.

Congressman Kennedy also has his supporters in the SouthCoast region. He recently announced he was being endorsed by New Bedford State Senator Mark Montigny, New Bedford City Councilors Hugh Dunn (formerly on the staff of Congressman William Keating), Maria Giesta (formerly on the staff of Congressman Barney Frank), Ian Abreu, and Brian Gomes.

Kennedy also has the support of New Bedford's popular former Mayor Scott Lang. Lang had considered challenging Sen. Markey until Kennedy entered the race. Recently, the former mayor put together a video meeting with leaders of the fishing industry and Kennedy.

It is nice to see the voters of the SouthCoast having the attention of candidates running for statewide office.

Chris McCarthy is the host of The Chris McCarthy Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from 10 a.m. to noon. Contact him at chris.mccarthy@townsquaremedia.com and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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