BOSTON (SHNS) – With just two months until voters go to the polls to decide the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, U.S. Sen. Edward Markey and his rival U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III have almost identically sized bank accounts after similar fundraising quarters that were interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Markey’s campaign said Wednesday that the Malden Democrat raised over $1.9 million over the past three months, and will enter the home stretch of the primary campaign with $4.8 million in cash at his disposal.
Meanwhile, Kennedy’s campaign said the congressman also pulled in $1.9 million in the second quarter of the year, despite suspending all fundraising activities for over a month in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Unlike Markey, Kennedy has also been on television with advertising for almost two months, spending over $2.4 million in May and June to reach voters from the Berkshires to southeastern Massachusetts.
Kennedy’s campaign said it had slightly less than Markey — $4.7 million — in the bank at the end of the second fundraising quarter of the year, but raised over $1 million in June alone.
Both campaigns on Wednesday claimed to have the momentum.
“These strong fundraising numbers reflect the energy for Joe and the momentum behind our efforts to bring Massachusetts stronger leadership to the United State Senate,” said Nick Clemons, campaign manager for Kennedy.
Clemons pointed out that from mid-March to late-April the campaign used its fundraising list to instead solicit donations for organizations and workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 response.
Markey campaign manager John Walsh said the senator’s fundraising support also shows momentum with eight weeks to go, and the campaign said its second quarter fundraising came from 33,707 donations, averaging $56.37.
“These donations are indicative of the momentum of this campaign. From Pittsfield to Provincetown, from Springfield to Somerville, and from Newburyport to Northampton, we are witnessing a surge of enthusiasm. Our supporters are organized, they are activated, and they know that we need to send Ed Markey back to the United States Senate,” Walsh said in a statement.
While polls have remained tight, the Markey campaign has been trailing Kennedy for much of the campaign in the money race, which can be a significant indicator of support as well as important to a campaign’s ability to spread its message to voters.
At the time of the last reporting deadline in April, Kennedy outraised Markey by about $750,000 over the first quarter of the year, and the congressman had about $2 million more in the bank than Markey.
But the senator’s campaign said Markey raised $500,000 in the days after the June 23 primaries in states like New York and Kentucky when progressive candidates, both winners and losers, fared well. Markey has spent much of the campaign highlighting his support for liberal policies like the Green New Deal and his allegiance with progressive leaders like New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
In addition to relying on personalized fundraising pages set up so supporters could help raise money from friends and family, Walsh said the online sale of Markey merchandise has also “soared.”
In two debates earlier this month, the two Democrats quarreled over each other’s progressive bonafides and whether it was time to turn the page on Markey’s generation of political leaders.
While Kennedy pitched himself as someone who would build the Democratic Party nationwide and do more than file and votes on bills, Markey said his record of passing laws for the people of Massachusetts speaks for itself.
Voters will decide the high-profile contest on Sept. 1.
If the Senate passes and Gov. Charlie Baker signs a compromise voting bill advancing this week, it will be the first primary cycle in state history to feature early voting and the expanded use of vote-by-mail.