Kennedy loss in Massachusetts may mark end of 'Camelot' era

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U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III speaks outside his campaign headquarters in Watertown, Mass., after conceding defeat to incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey, Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020, in the Massachusetts Democratic Senate primary. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

BOSTON – After the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy famously compared his 1,000-day presidency to “Camelot,” a popular Broadway musical about the legend of King Arthur — crafting a wistful shorthand for the Kennedy tenure, and by extension the entire Kennedy dynasty.

Now, 60 years after JFK’s election as president, some are wondering if the days of “Camelot” are over after U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy lll’s failed attempt to oust incumbent U.S. Sen. Edward Markey in Tuesday's state Democratic primary.

The loss marks the first time a member of the political dynasty has come up short in a race for Congress in Massachusetts.

The 39-year-old Kennedy, even as he conceded the election, seemed to leave open the possibility of a future chapter in his family’s long political saga.

“No matter the results tonight, I would do this again with all of you again in a heartbeat,” Kennedy told supporters. “We may have lost the final vote count tonight, but we built a coalition that will endure because this coalition, our coalition, is the future of a Democratic Party.”

In reality, a successful revival for Kennedy is going to be tough given the state's changing political landscape, said Jeffrey Berry, a professor of American politics and political behavior at Tufts University.

“It’s going to be difficult for him to come back and do elected politics here in Massachusetts because the Democratic side is very crowded with a lot of very capable people,” Berry said, pointing to potential rivals including U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

Berry said Kennedy was in a difficult position because it was hard for him to run to the left of Markey, given New York U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s endorsement of Markey.