Elizabeth Warren has won the US Senate seat, defeating incumbent Sen. Scott Brown in a victory fueled by lopsided vote totals in the neighborhoods of Boston. Brown one a handful of precincts— including the right-leaning Kenny School (16-9)— but was swamped by a high-energy Warren machine that was hitting on all cylinders on election day dominated by the presidential race.
Warren grabs Senate seat from Brown
By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
BOSTON, NOV. 6, 2012….Democrat Elizabeth Warren became the first woman from Massachusetts to be elected to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, unseating U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and reclaiming a seat that Democrats lost unexpectedly after the death of Edward Kennedy.
Warren was buoyed by strong turnout across the state with many voters in cities like Boston, Lynn and Lawrence still waiting in line to vote well after the polls closed. Her win held implications for national politics as well since Republicans were intent on holding the seat.
“It’s a huge victory. It’s a historic victory,” Rep. Edward Markey told WBZ-TV just after 10 p.m.
Brown, who catapulted from a relatively unknown state senator from Wrentham to a national political celebrity in 2010, representing a key swing vote in the Democratic-controlled Senate, could not overcome the wave of voters and field organization of the Democratic Party in a presidential election year, despite enjoying solid popularity.
As their contest wore on, Warren increasingly tried to nationalize the race and capitalize on turnout for President Barack Obama and the Democratic tendencies of the Massachusetts electorate. Voter turnout all across Massachusetts on Tuesday appeared heavy, a day after Secretary of William Galvin predicted a record turnout.
“One of the best get-out-the-vote efforts in Worcester County that I’ve ever seen,” Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said while waiting for results at Warren’s election night party at the Fairmont Copley in Boston.
After Brown won the January 2010 special election, Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh set himself to rebuilding the party’s grassroots network, which helped propel Gov. Deval Patrick and a slate of statewide Democratic candidates into office just 10 months later.
Before the polls closed, Patrick said any victory celebration would be, in part, to the credit of Walsh’s “strategic gifts.”
While Warren emphasized that control of the U.S. Senate could hinge on the outcome of the Massachusetts race, Brown urged voters to make their decision based on the candidates, not the party, and highlighted his willingness at times to break from Republican leaders in Washington.
Warren, a Harvard law professor, entered the Senate race with strong popularity among the activist base of the Democrat Party stemming from her work in Washington setting up a consumer protection agency and standing up to banks and mortgage lenders blamed for the foreclosure crisis.
She quickly cleared the Democratic primary field, and ran a campaign focused on her being a fighter for the middle class and an advocate for raising taxes on the wealthiest Americans to help reduce the deficit and invest in infrastructure and education.
Brown, meanwhile, stayed true to the formula that propelled him to his unlikely special election victory in 2010 over Democrat Martha Coakley, emphasizing his humble upbringing and working class appeal while promising not to raise taxes and to be a true independent voice in an increasingly partisan Congress. But he mixed in harsh attacks on Warren’s truthfulness and character.
Despite each raising millions of dollars in campaign donations fueling one of the most expensive races in the country, both Brown and Warren struck a deal at the start of the campaign to discourage outside groups from spending in Massachusetts. The so-called “People’s Pledge” largely held up throughout the election.
Women’s issues such as access to birth control and abortion played a large role in the campaign, as did the candidates’ positions on tax cuts for the middle class and highest earners. Warren cast Brown as a senator who voted against tax breaks for the middle class and stood up for the financial interests of “millionaires and billionaires” instead of working families.
Brown hammered Warren for her legal work advising clients such as Traveler’s Insurance and LTV Steel in bankruptcy proceedings that Brown said exposed Warren as hypocritical in her claim to be champion of the working class.
Warren’s claim to a sliver of Native American ancestry also dogged her throughout the campaign as Warren was unable to prove her heritage and Brown used it to raise questions about whether she used a minority status to get ahead in her career.
Both Brown and Warren waged intense campaigns over the past year in the one of the most expensive races in the country, raising millions of dollars. The two debated three times, while a fourth planned debate was canceled after Hurricane Sandy and scheduling conflicts prevented the final showdown from taking place.
More than two years after union voters, a traditionally Democratic voting bloc, helped turn the tables for Brown, their influence on Tuesday’s election might have proven pivotal.
“I think you’ll see a difference from two years ago,” said Steven Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO. “I think we’ve effectively and efficiently informed our members which candidate will represent working families and that’s Elizabeth Warren.”
Tolman said the difference between this election and the 2010 special election is that Brown has a voting record on which he can be judged. “Scott Brown has a record we can gauge him by and that record is 18 percent with us and on those votes we didn’t really need him. He has a strong record of supporting Wall Street and the millionaires and billionaires and using the middle class as a hostage to get what the millionaires want,” Tolman said.
Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley said Warren worked hard to earn the support of minority communities in Boston who turned out in droves on Tuesday.
Sen. Daniel Wolf, who represents one of the most heavily Republican districts in the state on the Cape and Islands, said Warren’s campaign had over 5,200 volunteers knocking on doors from Provincetown to Mashpee.
“The turnout was incredibly heavy. I’ve never seen it. Over the past year we’ve gone door to door, neighborhood to neighborhood talking to voters,” Wolf said.
And it was a turnout for Obama as well as Warren; the president appeared headed for 60 percent of the vote in Massachusetts, and the Obama effort, spearheaded by his friend Gov. Deval Patrick, no doubt contributed to Brown’s defeat.