“The AOC, Sunrise Movement, Justice Democrats embrace of Ed Markey to me is two-fold. That is what has allowed this remarkable makeover of Ed Markey to combat the fact he’s 74 years old and been in Congress 44 years. The way they did that was to make him the darling of the climate change warriors, and instrumental to that is [New York Rep.] Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” said Mary Anne Marsh, a Boston-based Democratic consultant who is neutral in the race but whose firm works for the Kennedy campaign. “Without her, I think it would’ve been a much harder effort to make him into the Ed Markey people see in this race which is very different from the Ed Markey people in Massachusetts have seen in 44 years.”

This airbrushed portrayal of Markey is a source of frustration for Kennedy and his supporters. The congressman points to Markey’s vote for the Iraq War, his support of the 1994 crime bill, his evolving position on health care and his decision to vote present on a resolution authorizing military force in Syria. That present vote came at a time when Secretary of State John Kerry, whose Senate seat had Markey just won, sorely needed support for the Obama Administration’s action in Syria.

But younger voters are captivated by Markey’s work on the Green New Deal and his partnership with Ocasio-Cortez. The Markey campaign has spent almost half a million dollars airing an ad that doesn’t even feature the candidate. In the 30-second ad, Ocasio-Cortez talks directly to the camera, and it has appeared on Bay State television 1,200 times.