Ask anyone a month or so ago, and they would have said that Rep. Joe Kennedy was a shoo-in to steal away Ed Markey's seat in the U.S. Senate. While still likely to occur, a Kennedy victory is not guaranteed.

Kennedy, a 39-year-old with red hair and sparkling green eyes, the grandson of the legendary Bobby Kennedy, was almost certain to ice the 74-year-old Markey with half his inheritance tied behind his back. But Markey has been around the block a few times and has been able to raise a substantial amount of money and call in some fairly important endorsements.

While Kennedy burst out of the gate, Markey has been steady and methodical in his approach. It seems to be paying off – or at least keeping the race tighter than anyone might have imagined.

Kennedy has been a study in contradictions. When first elected to the House, he won the hearts of business leaders and moderates who perceived him to be one of them. He was rational, someone they could work with. By the time Kennedy reached his decision to challenge Markey, the Democrat party had shifted far left, forcing Kennedy to adjust accordingly.

While Kennedy sounds more Marxist than moderate these days, Markey has owned left field for a long time. As Kennedy adjusts, Markey digs in. Markey is also able to parade out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a rock star in left-wing circles.

Kennedy has decided to go negative in his advertising. That's a sign of desperation and a trap Kennedy should have been wise enough to avoid.

Recent polling indicates a tightening race between Markey and Kennedy, and with the primary election a month away it seems momentum is with Markey. The primary is a week before Labor Day weekend, when many folks may not be paying attention. Also, the coronavirus could keep voters away from the polls. Turnout for primary elections is generally light anyway.

While Joe Kennedy is still favored to win the primary I would not rule Ed Markey out. He is an old guy but he is seasoned and may yet have some tricks up his sleeve.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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