Massachusetts voters chose state Sen. Scott Brown as their next U.S. Senator, sending a Republican to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy and damaging the chances of passing health care bill that Democrats have spent months crafting.
The Associated Press and CNN declared Brown the victor over Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) with two-thirds of precincts reporting. (See returns here.) Kennedy held the seat 47 years until his death last summer.
It was the first statewide special election in the state’s history, and unpredictable from the start. Democrats were caught off guard less than two weeks ago when polls showed Coakley, who had won the primary in December, had just a slim lead.But as national attention focused on the race it raised the stakes for health care and her edge slipped away. Independent voters flocked to Brown and Democrats turned to the Kennedy family to help raise money for the battle.
President Obama made a last minute pitch for Coakley, appearing at a Sunday rally that was turned into a television ad. The DNC’s Organizing for America made nearly 2 million calls into the state for Coakley and tea party groups flocked to Massachusetts to help Brown.
Brown has vowed to be the “41st vote” to block the health care bill.