A lot of people don’t even realize there is an election on Tuesday to fill the unexpired term of Ted Kennedy.
Indeed there is. And it’s close. In fact, the Republican candidate, State Senator Scott Brown, has been leading most recent polls: according to the final poll from Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, Brown leads Massachusetts’s Attorney General, Democrat Martha Coakley, 51%-46%.
Please stop and consider this moment. Many think that Massachusetts is the most liberal state in the country. The last time Massachusetts elected a Republican to the Senate was 1972. There are no Republicans in Massachusetts’ entire congressional delegation. Democrats hold a 90% of the seats in both houses of the state legislature. Democrats out-register Republicans three-to-one in Massachusetts. And, don’t forget, this is the seat that Ted Kennedy held since 1962.
Ironically enough, the late Senator Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy, hailed the Senate’s recent health care bill: “While imperfect, [it] would achieve many of the goals Ted fought for during the 40 years he championed access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans” in an op-ed in The Washington Post. Now, Brown’s victory in Massachusetts could derail reform by making him the 41st Republican in the Senate – enough to block cloture.
Now, Vicki Kennedy is attacking Brown for, among other reasons, garnering support from outside the state:
“They’re sending people from Texas,” said Kennedy, holding up an article from a Texas newspaper about conservatives from the state heading north to stump for Brown.
Here’s a question for Mrs. Kennedy: would it matter if out-of-staters were backing Coakley instead of Brown? What if they came from California instead of Texas? Is that more acceptable to Massachusetts? (News flash: California’s even farther away.)
Although polling in Massachusetts shows that voters there may be willing to take enough of a chance on Brown to risk blocking passage of the health care bill, some students at Stanford University are not so willing. An e-mail recently went out on the “Service for All,” abbreviated to svc4all, e-mail list, Stanford’s major public service list with hundreds of subscribers, urged Stanford students to participate in phone banks on Martha Coakley’s behalf.
According to the e-mail,
As you probably know, Democratic Senate candidate Martha Coakley is running in a very close race in a special election in Massachussetts to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat. Loss of this 60th Senate seat by the Democrats would make Democratic initiatives in the Senate, such as healthcare reform, susceptible to a Republican filibuster and be a demoralizing defeat for the Democrats.
Clearly, concern that health care reform hangs in the balance has spread all the way out here. But if Mrs. Kennedy can derisively point out volunteers from Texas supporting Brown, I don’t see how it’s any more okay for Stanford students to call in to back Coakley.
We know how Stanford would vote if health care reform were at risk; I’m excited to see how Massachusetts votes on Tuesday, and whether that means electing the first Republican senator from Massachusetts in nearly 40 years. Be sure to look out for the results.