At labor breakfast, Dems pummel Trump while girding for primary
Markey, Kennedy both attend; rep leaves before speeches
THE POLITICAL BACKDROP to Boston’s Labor Day breakfast stayed mostly in the background, as Democratic speakers ripped into President Trump but avoided saying anything about the more fraught US Senate race on the horizon.
“This country is divided. And it’s undeniable that Donald Trump is exploiting that to his evil benefit,” said US Sen. Ed Markey, who said the nation’s true division is the “wealthy few against the working many.”
When introducing Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and decrying Trump’s attacks on her, Louis Mandarini, president of the Greater Boston Labor Council, said, “I hate that S.O.B., the president.”
Despite a unified antipathy toward Trump, the Massachusetts Democratic party could endure further disruption itself in the 12 months leading up to next year’s primary, where two candidates have already launched campaigns against Markey and a third prominent challenger, US Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, is making moves to get in the race.
“I will have your back on the Senate floor every single day I am there,” said Markey, who said there has been a “tsunami of solidarity” with organized labor recently.
Kennedy’s presence was felt in the packed ballroom of the Park Plaza Hotel. A large banner reading “Kennedy for Senate,” hung from a balcony as Kennedy worked the room, shaking hands and speaking with International Association of Fire Fighters Secretary-Treasurer Ed Kelly and others, and then departed before the speeches began. A reporter for WCVB Channel 5 tweeted a short video of Kennedy greeting supporters holding up what appears to be an identical banner.
Kennedy plans to decide in a few weeks whether to challenge Markey. Shannon Liss-Riordan, a labor attorney and Democrat who launched a Senate bid earlier this year, also glad-handed and spoke to labor leaders at the Back Bay hotel. Steve Pemberton, a businessman seeking the nomination, was unable to attend because of a family emergency, according to a political aide.
A recent online poll commissioned by Education Reform Now Advocacy and obtained by CommonWealth found that Kennedy holds a 17-point lead over Markey, and the other two candidates are currently mired in the single digits. But Markey, who attended another labor rally right after the Park Plaza event, said his campaign decisions don’t hinge on Kennedy or any other candidates, and he is invigorated like never before.
“I’m going to be running regardless of who runs, and I will be running on the issues that I have been fighting for, which are immigrant rights, the Green New Deal, gun safety laws, health care for everyone,” Markey told reporters. Markey, who was first elected to the US House in 1976 and has served in the Senate since 2013, said, “Donald Trump has brought out a fight in me that is unprecedented. I am made for this moment to fight Donald Trump every single day.”
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, whose endorsement will surely be sought in the Senate race as well as the presidential contest, explained to the union crowd his view of how Democrats have faltered in recent years, enabling Trump to seize victory.
A former labor leader himself in Boston’s building trades union, Walsh rallied union officials and Democrats to do more in the 2020 election.
“Who will be left to speak for you when all of your rights are gone? The labor movement and Democrats are working people’s last hope, so we need to start acting like it,” Walsh said. “For all the unions out there, a check and an endorsement just isn’t enough. It’s going to take educating your members about what’s at stake in this election. For elected officials, it takes more than just snappy tweets to make change. It takes judgement and balance, the hard work of bringing people together, and the courage to tell people the truth, not just what they want to hear.”Monday’s breakfast also served as a big goodbye to Rich Rogers, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Greater Boston Labor Council, the host of the annual event. Rogers, who has held the post for nearly 16 years, will not seek re-election to the post in December.
“You are leaving at the peak of your game,” said Steve Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.