The next day: "Repudiation of Status Quo"

In his successful bid for U.S. Senate, Scott Brown successfully captured three precincts in Ward 16 in Dorchester, long considered a Democratic stronghold. Some residents were not completely surprised with the results.

“We all sensed the tenor of the time. She [Coakley] became associated with the status quo,” said William Walczak, director of the Codman Square Health Center. “Obviously he hit a nerve. People are scared about the economy and that things are not getting better. They are scared about what the new health bill means. They are saying they want change.”

The analyses are under way.

“It was not a repudiation of Ted Kennedy or a repudiation of Democrats. It was a repudiation of the status quo,” Walczak said. “I don’t see it as a seismic shift. It’s an example of people being frustrated with lack of change. The Democrats have got to wake up and understand that they are dealing with a population that unfortunately expects change immediately.”

Brown’s win “was a stunning victory,” said Boston City Councillor Maureen Feeney. But the campaign message that resonated with voters was more than health care, she added.

“It’s a very unsettling time for everyone,” Feeney said. “I think there are people who for the first time are unemployed. There are people concerned about the cost of health care and concerned because they are sending their sons and daughters to Afghanistan. There is so much on people’s plates.”

“The big question [in other elections] is who gets to exploit the [voters’] anger most effectively,” Walczak said.

Independent voters made a difference, said State Rep.Linda Dorcena Forry, who added that she does not believe the vote was a referendum on federal health care reform.

“We are not trying to repeal our landmark health care efforts in Massachusetts. Most people are pleased with the system and the way it is working here,” she said. “In the end, it’s about campaigns. Martha Coakley is a great attorney general. She has done a good job. As Democrats, when we have races such as this, we are going to have to do some soul searching and elect candidates who will appeal to unenrolled voters as well.”

Brown got caught up in an anti-incumbent movement, said State Representative Martin Walsh.

“Also, the Coakley campaign did a terrible job of reaching out to people after the primary,” Walsh said. “After a primary, you have unity gathering to reach out to people who weren’t with you. I don’t know of anyone who got a call until the last week.”

Walsh supported candidate Congressman Michael Capuano in the primary.
He also felt that neither candidate was clear about what they would do if elected. “No one talked about issues other than health care,” Walsh said.