Thursday, January 21, 2010

Republican State Senator Scott Brown has won the Massachusetts United States Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy in a major upset victory, becoming the first Republican that state has elected in 38 years. The state senator from Wrentham beat Massachusetts’s Attorney General, Martha Coakley, in a closely watched race that many believe may have a nationwide impact.

With higher than expected turnout — despite snow and rain blanketing much of the state — Brown won with 51.9% of the vote, as Coakley lagged behind closely with 47.1% of the vote in a state generally considered to be heavily Democratic. The race garnered national attention when Brown came from behind in opinion polls to take a last-minute lead, leaving Democrats scrambling. Meanwhile, Independent Libertarian Joseph L. Kennedy, who has no relation to the late Senator Kennedy, ran under the Liberty ticket on the ballot and only garnered one percent of the vote with 22,237 votes.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin predicted earlier in the day that turnout would be 40 to 55 percent. Galvin was quote as saying, “We’ve been in touch with many of our city and town clerks to monitor turnout. They uniformly tell us that turnout is brisk, that interest is strong.”

Galvin added, “We’re particularly seeing a high level of interest in some of the suburban communities. Traditionally cities tend to vote somewhat later. But we have seen a number of communities (with) lines, and people standing in lines, very patiently, in the snow.” His office sent out 105,000 absentee ballots.

Brown’s strongest vote came from the suburbs of Boston where independent voters, which make up a majority in Massachusetts, generally live.

Coakley’s strongest vote came from the cities, including the capital, Boston, where she won by a large margin, along with Massachusetts’ second and third largest cities, Worcester and Springfield. Other large cities that went for Coakley included New Bedford, Fall River, Brockton, Lynn, Salem, and Lawrence.

Wikinews reporter Patrick Mannion noted the turnout at his polling place in Lynn was small to moderate.

Brown has promised to be the 41st Republican senator that will end the Democrats’ filibuster proof supermajority and in a ironic twist of fate possibly end health-care reform of which his predecessor Ted Kennedy called “the cause of my life.”

I’ll bet they can hear all this cheering down in Washington, D.C. And I hope they’re paying close attention, because tonight the independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken. … I’m Scott Brown. I’m from Wrentham. I drive a truck, and I am nobody’s senator but yours.

Coakley called Brown shortly before the election was called for him to concede to him. She then went in front of supporters at Boston’s Sheraton Hotel saying, “Although our campaign ends tonight, we know that our mission continues and our work goes on.” Coakley continued, “I am heartbroken at the result and I know that you are also, but I know that you will get up together and continue this fight even with this result tonight.”

Coakley finished her speech with a slight crack in her voice by quoting Ted Kennedy’s famous line from the 1980 Democratic National Convention, “The work begins anew, the hope rises again, and the dream lives on.”

Meanwhile, at Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel, Brown gave his victory speech to supporters saying, “I’ll bet they can hear all this cheering down in Washington, D.C.” Brown continued, saying, “And I hope they’re paying close attention, because tonight the independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken.”

Brown added, “This Senate seat belongs to no one person and no political party — and as I have said before, and you said loud and clear today, it is the people’s seat.” He continued, “The people, by their votes, have now filled the office themselves, and I am ready to go to Washington without delay.”

Brown was joined on stage by his wife, Gail Huff, a reporter for local television station WCVB-TV, and his two daughters Arianna and Ayla Brown. Ayla was previously a contestant on the reality singing show American Idol. Brown said, “I rely as always, on Gail’s love and support and that of our beautiful daughters.”

Brown jokingly added, “And just in case anyone who’s watching throughout the country they’re both available. No, no. No. Only kidding, only kidding. Only kidding, only kidding. Arianna… Arianna’s, definitely not available. But Ayla is. This is Arianna. This is Ayla. I can see I’m going to get in trouble when I get home.”

Brown closed by saying, “I’m Scott Brown. I’m from Wrentham. I drive a truck, and I am nobody’s senator but yours.”

President Barack Obama phoned both candidates Tuesday night, congratulating Brown on a well-run campaign and saying he is eager to work with him on the urgent problems facing Massachusetts voters and all Americans.

Coakley noted the President’s call in her concession speech saying, “He actually just called me before I came onstage to say that we can’t win them all, and he knows that better than any, as he told me. But he appreciates what I did and what you did, and he said to extend his heartfelt thanks to everyone who worked on the campaign.”

Brown’s response to the President’s call was, “Would you like me to drive the truck down to Washington so you can see it?” Brown was referring to his 2005 GMC Canyon pickup truck which became an icon of his campaign, which featured in commericals portraying him as an everyday, regular joe Massachusetts citizen. The pickup truck was mocked by President Obama when he made a campaign stop on Sunday to drum up support for the lagging Coakley.

This led Brown to quip, “I didn’t mind when President Obama came here and criticized me — that happens in campaigns. But when he criticized my truck, that’s where I draw the line.”

Senator-elect Brown will fill the remaining two years of Ted Kennedy’s term. Brown will replace Senator Paul Kirk, a longtime friend of Ted Kennedy who was holding the seat in the interim until the special election was concluded.

The last time Massachusetts elected a Republican was in 1972 when they re-elected Edward Brooke, the state’s first African-American senator, to a second term. Brooke first ran in 1966 and was elected then.

However, the seat that Ted Kennedy held, which is the Class 1 seat, was held by a Republican until 1952 when Henry Cabot Lodge lost his re-election bid to Ted’s older brother, John F. Kennedy, who would later become the 35th President of the United States. Ted Kennedy won the seat in a special election in 1962 against Lodge’s son, George C. Lodge. Kennedy held the seat for 46 years until dying of brain cancer in August 2009.