Joe Kennedy agrees to debate on climate with Markey

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) agreed on Friday to participate in the climate debate proposed by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) as part the Democratic primary for Markey’s Senate seat. 

“After productive debate negotiations earlier this week, Kennedy for Massachusetts today agreed to a Senate primary debate on climate change,” Kennedy’s campaign manager Nick Clemons said in a statement. 

Kennedy’s campaign also proposed to hold five additional debates on other issues across Massachusetts leading up to the race’s Democratic primary in September. 

“While we agree with the urgency of climate change, we also understand there are a myriad issues out there of critical importance to Massachusetts voters,” Clemons continued. “To that end, we propose the remainder of the debates be issue-inclusive.” 

Markey, who is a long-time environmental advocate and co-sponsor of the Green New Deal, challenged his Democratic primary opponents, who also include Boston lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan and actor Steve Pemberton, to a debate on the environment last month.  

Green groups have come out in droves to endorse the incumbent senator, arguing that while Kennedy is progressive on climate, Markey has made the issue a priority. 

Kennedy, who is the grandson of former Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, launched a primary challenge against Markey last month, urging generational change in Washington. 

The race is expected to heat up in 2020, with a number of Democrats expressing anxiety over the showdown in the deep-blue state. 

A Suffolk University–Boston Globe survey conducted earlier this month found that 35 percent of likely 2020 Democratic primary voters said they favored Kennedy, while 26 percent backed Markey. 

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