BOSTON – Republican Scott Brown, who waged a late surge in Massachusetts to battle President Barack Obama’s agenda head on, tonight captured the Senate seat held for more than four decades by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
In what is Obama’s worst nightmare ever, the upstart whose chances were rated between thin and none just over a month ago defeated the Democrat Party’s hand-picked Kennedy successor, state Attorney General Martha Coakley.
“I’ll bet they can hear this cheering all the way in Washington, D.C.,” Brown told his rallying supporters. “I hope they’re paying close attention because tonight the independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken.”
“The voters of this commonwealth, the independent majority, have delivered a great victory,” he said.
“Every day I hold this office I will give all that is in me to serve you and make you proud. Most of all I will remember that while the honor is mine, this Senate seat belongs to no one person, no political party … this is the people’s seat,” Brown said.
“I’m ready to go to Washington without delay,” he said.
Brown also noted he’d talked with Paul Kirk, “who has completed his work as interim senator.”
“Kirk says he will help us in the transition and we’ll meet him in Washington soon,” Brown said.
With 100 percent of the vote in, Brown had 52 percent to 47 percent for Coakley, who was thought to be a shoo-in as late as a month ago.
She conceded in a telephone call late in the evening.
“If you do not run you cannot win and you don’t always win all of the time,” Coakley told her supporters. “It’s more important to travel than to arrive. We will continue to travel, hopefully. I know that.”
“I am heartbroken at the results (but) I always respect the voters’ choices. That’s what I told Scott Brown tonight,” she said.
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown addresses supporters at the Wachusett Mountain ski area (courtesy Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
“This is a tidal wave that’s sweeping the country, telling politicians in Washington the status quo is not acceptable,” 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin told Fox News. “This is a step toward taking our country back.”
“This is monumental. This is epic,” said former Massachusets Gov. Mitt Romney. “This is the people of Massachusets telling Obama they’ve had enough of him.”
“It is a revolution,” said Fox News analyst Stuart Varney. “Health care is dead. Cap and trade is dead.”
On Wall Street today, investors sent health-insurance and drug-company shares higher, on the prospect a Brown win would slow Obama’s health-care agenda.
Brown also didn’t even wait until he reached Washington to put Democrats on notice that their 60-vote dominance in the Senate was over, addressing the issue of health care reform.
“It’s going to raise taxes and cost jobs. It’s doing to do irreparable harm to our economy and I know we can do better,” Brown said. “I will work with Democrats and Republicans and pledge no more closed meetings and the business has to be open. Again, we can do better.”
“I will work with the Senate to create jobs. And as John F. Kennedy said, ‘It starts with across the board tax cuts to put more money in the pockets of the people’,” he continued. “I will work to keep our military second to none. I’m a 30-year member of the Massachusetts National Guard, so I will keep faith with those who serve.”
He also confronted President Obama’s plans to put terrorists on trial in New York City.
“We don’t grant rights and privileges to enemies in wartime. The message we send to terrorists is that our tax dollars should pay for weapons to stop them, not lawyers to defend them,” he said. “Giving rights to terrorists is unacceptable.”
According to a statement from the White House, Obama “spoke to both candidates in the hard-fought Massachusetts Senate race. The president congratulated Sen. Brown on his victory and a well-run campaign. The president told Sen. Brown that he looks forward to working with him on the urgent economic challenges facing Massachusetts families and struggling families across our nation.”
Scott Brown’s brother, Bruce, lives in neighboring Connecticut, and said his brother is on the cutting edge of history.
“This is great. He’s making history and he’ll be able to live up to every promise he’s made. That’s the kind of man he is. He is trustworthy and takes seriously the charge that this is the people’s seat,” he said.
“This is going to be the most significant special election in modern American history if Scott Brown wins,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, had said hours before polls closed. He predicted a Brown win would buoy every other “long-shot” Republican candidate in the country and add fuel to the party’s momentum going into the midterms this fall.
It also poses challenges immediately to Obama’s highest-priority agenda items, not the least of which is health care reform. Brown’s victory breaks the Democrats’ 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority.
How unlikely was this vote?
Though Republicans have occasionally been a political force in state politics, Massachusetts voters have not sent a Republican to represent them in the U.S. Senate since 1972. Every member of the state delegation currently in Washington is a Democrat. Democrats also outnumber Republicans 3-to-1 in the state – 37 percent of registered voters are Democrats, 12 percent are Republicans and 51 percent are unaffiliated. Obama won the state by 26 percentage points in the 2008 presidential election.
Kennedy, who died in August, held his Senate seat for 47 years.
It was only weeks ago when Democrats also lost two gubernatorial races in which they had been expected to dominate. Democrat Jon Corzine was defeated by Republican challenger Chris Christie in New Jersey, traditionally a Democratic state, despite outspending Christie 2-to-1 and campaigning prominently with Obama.
The other significant setback came in Virginia, where former Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, a Republican, defeated Democrat R. Creigh Deeds, finishing with a commanding 18-point margin. A social conservative, McDonnell ran on bread-and-butter pocketbook issues.
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