Republican Scott Brown has won the Massachusetts Senate seat held for nearly a half-century by Democrat Edward Kennedy.
Brown's victory in the special election gives Senate Republicans the 41st vote they need to block legislation favored by majority Democrats and President Barack Obama.
The loss by the once-favored Democrat Martha Coakley in the Democratic stronghold was a stunning embarrassment for the White House after Obama rushed to Boston on Sunday to try to save the foundering candidate. Her defeat signaled big political problems for the president's party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.
"I have no interest in sugarcoating what happened in Massachusetts," said Sen. Robert Menendez, the head of the Senate Democrats' campaign committee. "There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now. Americans are understandably impatient."
One day shy of the first anniversary of Obama's swearing-in, the election played out amid a backdrop of animosity and resentment from voters over persistently high unemployment, Wall Street bailouts, exploding federal budget deficits and partisan wrangling over health care.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ackowledged the new political dynamic after Brown's election.
"While Senator-elect Brown's victory changes the political math in the Senate, we remain committed to strengthening our economy, creating good paying jobs and ensuring all Americans can access affordable health care, " Reid said. "We hope that Scott Brown will join us in these efforts. There is much work to do to address the problems Democrats inherited last year, and we plan to move full speed ahead."
BOSTON (AP) -- In a contest with major national implications, Massachusetts voters chose a successor to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy on Tuesday in a down-to-the-wire election that became a referendum on President Barack Obama's sweeping health care overhaul and his first year in office.
A loss - or even a narrow victory - by once-favored Democrat Martha Coakley to insurgent Republican Scott Brown in this Democratic stronghold could signal big political problems for the president's party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.
More immediately at stake was a critical 60th vote for Democrats to save their health care legislation and the rest of Obama's agenda. A 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate could allow the GOP to block the president's priorities with filibusters.
The election transformed reliably Democratic Massachusetts into a battleground state. One day shy of the first anniversary of Obama's swearing-in, it played out amid a backdrop of animosity and resentment from voters over persistently high unemployment, industry bailouts, exploding federal budget deficits and partisan wrangling over health care.
Days before the vote, White House advisers and other Democrats in Washington began making excuses for they called a poorly run campaign on Coakley's part. Obama flew to Boston for last-minute personal campaigning on Sunday.
Wall Street watched closely. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 116 points, and analysts attributed the increase to hopes the election would make it harder for Obama to make his changes to health care. That eased investor concerns that profits at companies such as insurers and drug makers would suffer.
Across Massachusetts, voters who had been bombarded with phone calls and dizzied with nonstop campaign commercials for Coakley and Brown gave a fitting turnout despite intermittent snow and rain statewide.
Boston reported twice the primary turnout among early voters, while in western Massachusetts, one in five registered voters in Longmeadow had shown up by 11 a.m.
Secretary of State William Galvin predicted turnout ranging from 1.6 million to 2.2 million, 40 percent to 55 percent of registered voters. The Dec. 8 primary had a scant turnout of about 20 percent.
As polls opened, Brown drove up to his polling place in Wrentham in the green pickup truck that came to symbolize his upstart, workmanlike campaign that in the past week pulled him into a surprise dead heat in polls.
"It would make everybody the 41st senator, and it would bring fairness and discussion back to the equation," the state senator said of a potential victory. He spent the rest of the day out of public view, crafting evening rally remarks that had the potential to be an early State of the Union speech for the national Republican Party.
Coakley, stunned to see a double-digit lead evaporate in recent weeks, counted on labor unions and reawakened Democrats to turn out on her behalf and preserve a seat Kennedy and his brother, President John F. Kennedy, held for over 50 years. The senator died in August of brain cancer.
"We're paying attention to the ground game," Coakley, the state's attorney general, said casting her vote in suburban Medford. "Every game has its own dynamics."