January 20, 2010
By Lee-Anne Goodman
The Canadian Press
WASHINGTON - A crucial Massachusetts Senate seat held by the storied Kennedy clan for almost 60 years fell to a Republican on Tuesday, a stunning turn of events in a previously liberal state that leaves President Barack Obama's efforts to reform the U.S. health-care system in serious jeopardy.
Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, the state's attorney general, after striking a chord with independent voters angry about the economy, taxes and government spending.
Coakley had aimed to replace the late Ted Kennedy, who held the seat for almost half a century. JFK had it prior to his kid brother, from 1953 until he won the presidential election in 1960.
The loss strikes a serious blow to Democrats with less than a year before the mid-term elections, in addition to putting the brakes on Obama's legislative agenda. Democrats needed Coakley in the Senate for a 60th vote that would have enabled them to prevent Republicans from blocking legislation.
"It creates panic in the ranks," Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said earlier Tuesday at the prospect of a Democratic loss in such a historically friendly state. "It serves as confirmation that there is a deeper concern about the direction of the Obama administration in the public than had been understood before."
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