U.S. Rep. Markey: JP ready to ‘unleash’ power for his Senate campaign

Energized by a big turnout today at a J.P. Licks campaign rally, Congressman Ed Markey told the Gazette that “Jamaica Plain is a very key progressive part of Massachusetts” that is going to “unleash” its power on behalf of his U.S. Senate campaign.

Markey also declined to comment on his differences with fellow Congressman Stephen Lynch, who represents half of JP and is his likely Democratic primary opponent for the Senate seat recently vacated by John Kerry.

“I laid out my positive agenda in my address,” said Markey, referring to a stump speech that supported gun control, abortion rights, Obamacare, greenhouse gas controls, a minimum-wage hike and full rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Lynch is known for supporting only limited abortion rights and voted against President Obama’s health reform package.

At least 75 people packed into the popular ice cream store at 659 Centre St. to hear Markey speak as he stood next to its fireplace on a snowy, slushy Sunday afternoon.

In an intro that both polished his working-class cred and gave JP a nod, Markey cited his experience driving an ice cream truck to pay for college. Thus, he joked, the best place in the world to him is a place like J.P. Licks, where “you can do politics and get an ice cream cone.” (He did not actually get an ice cream cone himself, though some staffers later indulged.)

“This is who I am…My life is inextricably entwined with ice cream,” Markey joked.

Then the congressman got down to business, pledging to work with Obama and the state’s senior U.S. senator, Elizabeth Warren, to advance a host of liberal issues:

  • Gun control. Citing the infamous December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, Markey said the only technology that should be near a student is “a computer and not a weapon.” Markey supports the president’s gun control agenda, including a ban on so-called assault weapons, a restriction on large-capacity ammo magazines, and a full slate of background checks on gun-buyers.
  • Abortion rights. “I am running for the United States Senate because I believe a woman should have a right to choose,” Markey said of his abortion-rights position, adding he also supports protecting women’s right to equal pay as men, among other women’s rights issues.
  • Universal health care and medical research. Markey warned that some Republicans are seeking to defund Obamacare and federal health research funds. He said that health care should be a right and that health research is good for the economy as well. He said that Massachusetts does all of this right and has become not only the Bay State, but also “the Brain State” due to the many medical researchers here.
  • LGBT rights. Markey spoke broadly of “full protection for the LGBT community.”
  • Climate change and global warming. “Notwithstanding the weather today, the planet is running a fever,” Markey said, referring to global warming. “There are no emergency rooms for planets. We need preventative care.” He said the Senate previously blocked his legislation requiring strong reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and said he wants to become a senator in part to see that legislation pass.
  • Boosting minimum wage. Markey said a minimum-wage hike is necessary to help reduce the “great income disparities in our country today.” He also spoke more vaguely of “creating more jobs and opportunities.” He also spoke generally of the need for “democratization of opportunity,” including ending “discrimination,” and cited his experience meeting a young Dominican family who now lives in his father’s family home in South Lawrence. “Different accent, but same aspiriations,” Markey said.

Speaking afterward to the Gazette, Markey called the event turnout “overwhelming.” He praised JP as an “excellent community” marked by “activism, progressivism, concern for the future,” adding that is why he wanted to hold a campaign event here. He has been to JP many times before, he said.

Questioned by a Fox 25 TV cameraman about his ice cream preferences, Markey recalled a past infatuation with fruit-juice bars before settling on “good, old-fashioned chocolate-covered.” When the Gazette noted that J.P. Licks recently introduced a line of hemp-based ice cream, Markey expressed some amusement but avoided discussing the hemp industry. However, he did reveal the strangest flavor he was required to sell in his own ice cream truck: popcorn.

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