BOSTON -- With the start of the new year, Democratic political rivals Edward Markey and Joe Kennedy III are ramping up their campaigns with Markey's Senate seat hanging in the balance.
Kennedy is opening new campaign offices in Lowell, Worcester and the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston while Markey is planning a Sunday town hall discussion on his Green New Deal resolution.
Kennedy is challenging Markey in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. The race is pitting two well-known politicians against each other.
The incumbent Markey has served in Congress for decades — first in the House and later in the Senate. Kennedy, who currently represents the state's 4th Congressional District in the House, hails from the state's most storied political family.
The Democratic primary also includes a third candidate — Shannon Liss-Riordan, a workers' rights lawyer.
The race is shaping up to be expensive.
As of the end of September, Markey reported having about $4.4 million in cash in his campaign account compared to Kennedy who reported having slightly less, about $4.3 million. Liss-Riordan reported having more than $2.8 million, having loaned her campaign $3 million.
While the contest has been overshadowed by the impeachment debate and the Democratic presidential primaries, the new year could bring a renewed focus on the contested primary.
The 39-year-old Kennedy kicked off 2020 by announcing the opening of additional campaign offices.
Kennedy also said he will hold 14 community town halls across Massachusetts over the next month, including two Spanish-language town halls. Kennedy said the town halls will give him the chance to hear directly from Massachusetts voters.
“At a moment when far too many feel cut out of our politics and ignored by their government, this campaign is about being present, bringing people in, and elevating every voice across the Commonwealth," Kennedy said in a statement.
The primary is Sept. 1.
The 73-year-old Markey is beginning the year with a town hall in Acton by highlighting one of this key campaign themes — the Green New Deal resolution he introduced last year with New York Democratic U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez.
Markey describes the resolution as a set of principles to transition to 100% clean, renewable, and zero-emitting energy. He said other goals include creating new jobs and reaching out to communities that have born the burdens of the fossil fuel economy.
Markey is also pointing to a recent legislative win — the signing into law by President Donald Trump this week of a bill Markey co-authored aimed at cracking down on robocalls.
Markey's campaign could hit a temporary snag if there is an impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate. As a senator, Markey would be required to be present in the Senate chamber during the trial. Kennedy, who voted for both articles of impeachment, would face no similar requirement.
All three candidates will meet for their first debate February 18 hosted by WGBH News.