Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey knows he will lose to Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy III in a state Democratic Party primary. Why lose when you can retire?

Senator Markey has always been viewed as a placeholder by some political observers. The long-time elected official is a better-known version of Benjamin Atwood Smith II. Smith was lucky enough to be the Harvard roommate of future President John F. Kennedy.

When Sen. John F. Kennedy was elected President of the United States, he still had four years left on his term in the U.S. Senate. The Kennedy family wanted Edward M. Kennedy to succeed JFK in the Senate, but he was still too young to legally be a member of that body. The newly-elected president encouraged Democrat Governor Foster Furcolo to appoint his former Harvard roommate to the vacant Senate seat, knowing Smith wouldn't object to leaving when his brother Ted was legally eligible to run for the seat when he turned 30 years old.

Senator Edward M. Kennedy had a long run in the Senate and had a tremendous impact on the direction of the country, a country that all of his brothers died for in the line of duty. Joe Jr. died in combat during World War II and President John Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy were assassinated by radicals who hated the United States.

Congressman Kennedy and his supporters likely realize this is his opportunity to move from the House to the more influential Senate. 2020 is a presidential election year, and Massachusetts will go overwhelmingly for the Democratic Party ticket. Smart Republicans like Gov. Charlie Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito aren't going to run on the Trump ticket in Massachusetts.

Congressman Kennedy's election to the Senate would be a benefit to Southeastern Massachusetts. He has represented Fall River and the area suburbs and he understands the issues unique to that part of the state. He chose Fall River as the location of his national response to President Trump's State of the Union Address.

Joe Kennedy has worked closely with Congressman William Keating, who represents New Bedford, Cape Cod, and the two share the city of Fall River. Kennedy has worked closely with local elected officials like New Bedford City Councilor Hugh Dunn on the issues like economic development and job creation. Lakeville Attorney Aaron Burke, formerly a selectman and now a town assessor, isn't a Democrat but he gives Kennedy high marks for his responsiveness and local engagement.

Most of the Democrats and even some Republicans of SouthCoast will line up behind Kennedy if he challenges Markey. There will be some, like the radical Coalition for Social Justice, who already endorsed Markey if he decides to oppose Kennedy, but they represent the past–and the angry–rather than the future.

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 and follow him on Twitter @Chris_topher_Mc. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author. 

More From WBSM-AM/AM 1420