Tom Steyer, a top election donor and climate change activist, announced on Monday his endorsement of incumbent Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) over Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) for the Massachusetts Democrat Senate primary race.
“For the last several decades, Ed’s been leading the fight in Congress to tackle our climate crisis while too many politicians on both sides of the aisle have sat on the sidelines,” Steyer said in a statement to the Hill.
Markey, who has made environmental issues a focal point throughout his four decades in Congress, expressed that he was “grateful” for Steyer’s support and for “his commitment to a Green New Deal.” Markey cosponsored the formal Green New Deal alongside Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in February 2019, but the broad resolution, which called for a complete transition to renewable energy over the next ten years, failed to pass a procedural vote in the Senate 57–0.
For his part, Steyer, who ran for president and dropped out in February after squandering upwards of $344 million on his campaign — most of which was self-financed — has continued to fund his super PAC, NextGen Climate Action, to which he has so far donated over $26 million in the current election cycle, per Open Secrets. In the past, he has pumped $90 million and $60 million — during the 2016 and 2018 election cycles respectively — into the same organization.
Although Steyer has consistently directed his fortune, which he amassed through hedge fund management, toward political initiatives, it is unclear if Markey intends to accept funding from Steyer. Steyer also backed Markey in his first bid for Senate in 2013, and Markey denounced the endorsement given he signed on to a “People’s Pledge” vowing not to accept outside money.
Primary race challenger Kennedy used the latest endorsement to harp on his opponent’s avoidance of signing such a pledge this time around, saying, according to the Hill, “From day one of the campaign, I have asked Senator Markey to sign the same pledge he signed seven years earlier. But Senator Markey — a so-called progressive champion — has refused and already allowed dark money to infiltrate this race.”
The two candidates have yet to reach an agreement on accepting outside funding as pressure mounts for Markey to close the gap in financial support and polling, definitively trailing Kennedy in both arenas, before the September 1 primary.