Voter anxiety and resentment, building for months in a troubled economy, exploded like a match on dry kindling in the final days of the special election for US Senate. In arguably the most liberal state in the nation, a Republican – and a conservative one at that – won and will crash the Bay State’s all-Democratic delegation with a mandate to kill the health care overhaul pending in Congress.
It is difficult to overstate the significance of Scott Brown’s victory because so much was at stake. From the agenda of President Obama and the legacy of the late Edward M. Kennedy to a referendum on the Democratic monopolies of power on Capitol and Beacon hills, voters in a lopsidedly Democratic state flooded the polls on a dreary winter day to turn conventional wisdom on its head.
Brown, an obscure state senator with an unremarkable record when he entered the race four months ago, was a household name across the country by the end of the abbrevi ated campaign. Running a vigorous, smart, and error-free campaign, he became a vessel into which cranky and worried voters poured their frustrations and fears, ending the Democrats’ grip on a Senate seat the party has held for 58 years, nearly all by two brothers named Kennedy.
Voters were demonstrably unsentimental about keeping alive the spirit of the late Ted Kennedy in electing the next senator. His widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, tried to bolster the sagging candidacy of Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley in the closing days, to little effect.
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