Congratulations, Senator Brown

It is the right thing to do today to congratulate our new U.S. Senator-elect, Scott Brown, on his impressive election this week. Senator Brown’s campaign was given little chance last fall in the wake of the death of the 46-year incumbent Democrat, Ted Kennedy. The pundits seemed to agree that this was a “Democratic seat,” but Brown correctly said it’s “the people’s seat” and Massachusetts voters made it clear they had something to say about that.

It has, in fact, been a long time since a Republican held a Bay State Senate seat: Edward W. Brooke, another attorney general, served two terms in the Senate, from 1967 through 1979, and he was widely regarded as an effective legislator by voters from both parties.

Senator Brown’s stunning victory was by no means unanimous; while he bested Ms. Coakley by some 110,000 votes, she did win the tally in the City of Boston, as well as in some other cities by a comfortable margin. In Dorchester and Mattapan, Brown won just four precincts, 7, 9, 10 and 12 in Ward 16. But the Republican had a strong vote in the suburbs, where the election effectively was decided.

The surge in Brown’s appeal seems to parallel the strengths of former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin: She’s a hockey mom, he a basketball dad; she a hunter, he a pickup truck driver. Martha Coakley is a good person – smart and articulate, but not someone the voters could easily identify with. And she truly seemed uncomfortable in her election eve scurry through the Eire Pub, a place where, several weeks ago, Scott Brown had spent three hours meeting with the regulars and keeping an eye on the sports on TV. The message for voters was clear: he’s one of us, and she’s not. There’s a message there, too, for politicians of all stripes, and it’s up to them to discern it for themselves.

So, congratulations to Senator-elect Brown. To echo a long-ago campaign slogan of his predecessor, let us hope he can do more for Massachusetts.

– Ed Forry