- Sen. Ed Markey became the 63rd incumbent lawmaker to win a primary after having backed the Green New Deal.
- Markey beat Rep. Joe Kennedy III with the help of the Sunrise Movement, a group of young activists who helped promote the climate plan, which sought to completely phase out fossil fuel usage within 12 years
- Ocasio-Cortez and Markey proposed the plan in 2019 before Republicans in the senate torpedoed the lofty legislation.
Sen. Ed Markey’s victory Tuesday over Rep. Joe Kennedy III is another win for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who helped the liberal Massachusetts senator fend off a primary challenge from a member of the Kennedy family.
Markey’s victory makes him the 63rd incumbent lawmaker to have won a primary in 2020 after backing the Green New Deal in 2019, according to a review of Ballotpedia. Sens. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Markey of Massachusetts won their primaries in May, July, and September, respectively. All three supported the Green New Deal last year.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reviewed the list of 2020 congressional candidates on Ballotpedia and cross-referenced the names on the list with incumbents who had previously backed the climate proposal. In all, 97 House lawmakers and 15 senators backed the Green New Deal after it was proposed in April 2019.
So far, 60 Democratic House incumbents have won their primaries after supporting the plan, which would have reportedly phased out fossil fuel usage within 12 years at a cost tens of trillions of dollars, some media reports show. Markey praised young activists with the Sunrise Movement for injecting his campaign with the energy needed to defeat Kennedy.
“We have tremendous momentum,” Markey said in an interview with The Washington Post. “The energy level at our events is growing by the day. A lot of it is driven by the climate crisis, by the Sunrise Movement, by young people all across the state who are rallying to this campaign.”
Markey began airing a TV ad in August featuring Ocasio-Cortez in which she stated: “When it comes to progressive leadership, it’s not your age that counts, it’s the age of your ideas,” the 30-year-old Democrat said in the video while walking through a neighborhood. “Ed Markey is the leader that we need.”
Markey, 74, used the young progressive congresswoman to blunt Kennedy’s message, which implored voters to consider a new generation of leadership, the Boston Herald reported in August. (RELATED: Here’s How Dem Candidates Who Supported Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal Are Faring In The Primaries)
Kennedy struggled to draw a distinction between himself and Markey on policy issues, according to some voters.
“I just think it’s unnecessary,” Sean Dacey, a voter who’s restaurant was closed due to the pandemic lockdowns, told The Post after seeing Markey speak. “I think it might have a bit to do with ambition and looking and seeing an opportunity than with a chance to distinguish himself on the issues. They’re pretty close on the issues. So why bother?”
Activists with the Sunrise Movement claimed some credit for helping out Markey.
“As soon as we realized there might be a credible threat to Markey’s reelection we wanted to make sure we were doing everything we could to have his back,” Evan Weber, political director for the Sunrise Movement, told The Post. “We didn’t want to wake up to a bunch of headlines saying Ed Markey lost and voters rejected the Green New Deal.”
Ocasio-Cortez’s version of the Green New Deal would cost households an average of between $74,287 and $76,683 in Colorado, Michigan and Pennsylvania, a February report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute claimed. The group worked with Power the Future and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on the report.
Republicans in the Senate blocked the Green New Deal in March 2019, defeating the ambitious proposal in a 57-0. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called the bill a socialistic ploy. That didn’t put a damper on Democratic support. Sens. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts are still on board with the idea.
Sanders, a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, revealed his own Green New Deal plan in August 2019, including promises to provide “virtually free” electricity and a “hunger-free” transition to green energy from fossil fuels. His nearly 14,000-page memo also laid out how he would deal with a variety of social justice issues.
California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris said in 2019 that she would consider ending the Senate filibuster as president if Republican lawmakers refused to embrace legislation addressing what she and other Democrats believe is a climate crisis. She made the suggestion during a CNN climate crisis town hall event in September 2019 before ending her White House bid.
Former Vice President Joe Biden selected Harris in August to be his running mate as he prepares for a bruising general election fight with President Donald Trump, who called the Green New Deal “ridiculous” in March. Biden unveiled his climate change plan in 2019, which aimed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan also called for $6.7 trillion investment in climate initiatives over a decade.
The former vice president released another climate plan in July to spend $2 trillion over four years to transition the U.S. to green energy, media reports show.
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