Pelosi’s endorsement put her at direct odds with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and surprised many, as she rarely weighs in on Democratic primaries.
It also prompted backlash from progressives, who have faced resistance to their own primary efforts against sitting members from the Democratic establishment.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), a Markey supporter who herself won a primary against an incumbent, said Pelosi’s support of Kennedy went against the party’s longtime policy against backing challengers.
“No one gets to complain about primary challenges again,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.
Justice Democrats, which has backed Ocasio-Cortez and other progressives, released a statement accusing Pelosi of double standards.
“This move reeks of hypocrisy,” the group wrote in a statement. “The party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment.”
Pelosi cited Kennedy’s track record, calling him a “valued member” who was “instrumental” in helping Democrats win back the House majority in 2018.
“I’m so proud to support him,” she said, adding, “I support my members when they run for reelection and when they run for other office.”