Seeing no way forward, New Bedford native Steve Pemberton has dropped from the race for the Democrat nomination for U.S. Senator from Massachusetts.

Pemberton had sought to present a formidable challenge to incumbent U.S. Senator Ed Markey next year but ran smack dab into an "impenetrable wall of legacy and birthright – of incumbency and connections" instead. The decision by Congressman Joe Kennedy III to get into the race sealed Pemberton's fate.

And it sucks.

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Ed Markey and Joe Kennedy attract all of the talent and the money in the race and that leaves no possibility for people like Pemberton to compete. Pemberton is upset by the way the system is rigged.

"They are bolstered by state and federal party bosses who privately blacklist anyone attempting to aid an insurgent campaign while publicly espousing the importance of diversity and inclusivity," he said in a statement.

Pemberton says he was able to raise a half a million dollars but it wasn't nearly enough to take on two entrenched politicians.

"They are supported by a campaign finance system that allows incumbents to hoard millions of dollars in special interest PAC money," Pemberton said, noting the rules are different for the connected. "They are protected by the insiders who criticized me for breaking the party 'rule' of challenging an incumbent, forced consultants off of my campaign, and then changed their tune when Congressman Kennedy, in unprecedented fashion, entered into the race."

This is exactly why it is so difficult for newcomers to be successful in politics, especially when confronting an entrenched incumbent with name recognition in a one-party state such as Massachusetts. But it doesn't have to be this way.

The largest contributing factor to endless incumbencies and one-party domination is voter disinterest. If only voters bothered to participate in the system and educated themselves about the candidate rather than just selecting a party or a familiar name, we might get some serious change in the makeup of our government and how it operates. If only people cared enough.

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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