FOR THE PAST several years, we have had the privilege of getting to know Congressman Joe Kennedy III, either as constituents or volunteers. We have seen the congressman at work, and have come to appreciate his commitment to the issues and causes that are important to us. We believe that our Commonwealth and nation need his passion and energy in the US Senate, and we strongly encourage Congressman Kennedy to challenge Sen. Ed Markey in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Some are likely to be uncomfortable with our suggestion that Congressman Kennedy challenge an incumbent Democratic senator. We believe that Sen. Markey has served with distinction and we are grateful for his years of public service, in particular his commitment to the environment. We launched this effort not because we are anti-Markey, but because we strongly believe in Congressman Kennedy and his vision for America. These are unusual times in our nation and a new era in politics in which incumbency no longer means that someone is entitled to elected office in perpetuity. It is healthy for our democracy to give voters a choice. In our view, we need passionate, proactive leadership in the US Senate to combat the divisiveness of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Republican Party. We need Joe Kennedy.

We feel so passionate about the possibility of a future Sen. Joe Kennedy that we have launched a Facebook group, website, and petition drive, and are building grassroots support across the Commonwealth to urge him to run.

Since first elected to the House in 2012, Congressman Kennedy has been a progressive champion for the residents of his district. He is a strong advocate for protecting and improving health care for all, calling out Republican efforts to strip coverage from millions of Americans as an “act of malice.” He also has fought to expand funding for mental health care, to secure mental health parity in insurance coverage, and to combat the opioid crisis.

Congressman Kennedy has been on the front lines of social and economic justice – not just believing that all Americans deserve a fair shot, but working tirelessly to ensure it. He has led the fight against the Trump administration’s efforts to rollback LGBTQ rights, especially for the transgender community. He has championed equal pay for equal work, the preservation of a woman’s right to choose, and the urgent need for action to address gun violence.

In his response to the 2018 State of the Union address, Congressman Kennedy rejected the false choice perpetuated by Republicans that we must choose between “us” and “them.” He dismisses the idea that opportunity and equal rights are a zero sum game. He has articulated a vision of “moral capitalism” under which we support American innovation and entrepreneurship and, at the same time, rein in the corrupting forces that only benefit the wealthy and connected.

He is a leader in the movement to combat climate change, while also supporting the manufacturing industry in his district. He fights for increased funding for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workforce education, and highlights the critical need for vocational and technical training. While he has had a national stage in his fight against the Trump administration, he also remains focused on local constituent issues, from helping someone get their Social Security benefits to ensuring veterans get the health care they deserve.

It is true that you can find many Democrats who support these same policies, but we believe Congressman Kennedy brings a fresh perspective and renewed passion to these issues. The Senate currently lacks a bench of next-generation progressive champions – those who have the moral conviction, vigor, and strength of character to be a voice for the voiceless – and to aggressively challenge McConnell’s agenda.

If President Trump is reelected, the Senate opposition will need a proactive progressive who can continue the resistance against him. If Trump is defeated, the Senate will need creative, energized leaders to right the nation’s course. While we hope it’s the latter, we must prepare for the former. Through his leadership, Congressman Kennedy has demonstrated that he is the person we would need in either scenario.

In Joe Kennedy’s America, we do not have to choose between us and them, between manufacturing and the environment, or between economic fairness and industry. We believe his vision and passion are what our Commonwealth and nation need at this critical moment in our history. We think now is the time for Joe Kennedy to run for Senate.

Valerie Frias is a New Bedford native, Brookline attorney, and veteran civil rights advocate. Jamie Hoag is Watertown resident and a former aide to Gov. Deval Patrick. Barbara Kamholz is a Brookline resident, clinical psychologist, and social justice activist. Junior Paquette is a Fall River resident and community activist. Kimberley Spencer is Newton resident and active in progressive causes.