The Associated Press has projected Sen. Ed Markey will win the Democratic Senate primary, fending off a strong challenge by U.S. Rep Joe Kennedy. With the projected victory, Markey will deal the Kennedy family its first loss in a Massachusetts federal election.

Markey led Kennedy 55%-45% with 43% of precincts reporting. Kennedy called Markey to concede the race just before the AP call was announced, according to Deputy Communications Director Mike Cummings.

Standing before Malden public library, Markey delivered a victory speech with a theme of justice — including racial justice, climate justice and justice for marginalized groups. He also stressed the hope he holds for young people.

"They will save us, if we trust them," Markey said. "We must follow these young people they want justice in our country and in our world."

Kennedy announced his bid against Markey in September 2019, saying he decided to challenge Markey as a way to shake up the status quo in Washington, just as Rep. Ayanna Pressley did in her successful bid against former Rep. Michael Capuano in 2018. He accused Markey of spending too much time in Washington at the expense of his constituents in Massachusetts and of coming late to the fight for racial equality.

Despite his rationale, Kennedy, whose family name is tantamount to political royalty in Massachusetts, was continually asked why he was running in the primary, and often grew frustrated that Markey was painted as the more progressive candidate.

Markey, meanwhile, received a critical early endorsement from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, with whom he co-wrote the Green New Deal, a sweeping proposal to rebuild the country’s infrastructure and combat climate change. A strong social media presence also drew the attention and ardor of younger voters, who soon began creating their own Markey memes and "stan" accounts to show their support.

Once a rising star in Democratic politics, Kennedy’s political future is now uncertain. In an election year when Democrats all around the country are waging an all-out battle to take back control of the Senate and the White House from the Republican Party, some observers questioned why Kennedy would challenge a fellow Democrat at all.

Markey is now expected to cruise to victory against Republican Kevin O'Connor in the general election.

This story comes from the New England News Collaborative, eight public media companies, including The Public's Radio, coming together to tell the story of a changing region, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.