Four city councilors, a former mayor, and union construction workers were among those to show up at Gary's Best Hot Dogs to express support for Joseph P. Kennedy III on Monday afternoon.

Kennedy made the trip to New Bedford as part of his neck-and-neck bid to unseat U.S. Sen. Ed Markey in the Sept. 1 Democratic primary, and the congressman spent about an hour chatting with supporters and passersby. Former Mayor Scott Lang handed out tickets to all takers good for two hot dogs, a bag of chips, and a Coke. City Council President Joseph Lopes, Ward 2 Councilor Maria Giesta, Ward 5 Councilor Scott Lima, and At-Large Councilor Brian Gomes showed up to express their support. Members of the Laborer's Local 385 construction union appeared in their bright orange shirts, and local residents spread out at the picnic tables behind the Ashley Boulevard hotdog stand.

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Lopes and the other councilors told WBSM their support is based in part on Kennedy's longstanding presence in the region. "Even before Kennedy got elected as a congressman, he knew where New Bedford was," Lopes said. "I don't want to hear the excuse that Markey spends all his time in D.C. passing bills."

"Clearly, as much as I do like Senator Markey, he hasn't paid attention to this area, and this is the reason why we support Congressman Kennedy," added Giesta. Gomes and Lima said Kennedy understands issues facing the commercial fishing industry, a sector important to the city's economy.

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Kennedy on Monday said he "wants to make sure the people of New Bedford know that their voices count, that they are going to play a central part in this election, and they deserve to be heard."

Kennedy, who represents Massachusetts' 4th Congressional District, also visited the South Coast area on Aug. 6 when he toured Merrow Manufacturing in Fall River and scored an endorsement from the textile factory's CEO. Back in June, he spent time on New Bedford's working waterfront.

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Markey has represented Massachusetts on Capitol Hill for over 40 years. On the campaign trail he has cited his legislative record and touted his work with Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the Green New Deal. During a stop in New Bedford last month, Markey highlighted his efforts to secure financial support for the commercial fisheries under the CARES Act, and emphasized that he lobbied U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao to land a major federal grant to rebuild the North Terminal in New Bedford harbor, a project that's important to the port's future.

New Bedford Mayor Jon Mitchell, who thanked Markey for those efforts, has said he will not issue a formal endorsement in the race. Mitchell this summer attended back-to-back visits by the two candidates at Pier 3 and issued words of praise for both candidates.

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