The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Brown stuns in senatorial election

On Jan. 20, Democrats in Washington were seeing red as one of the bluest of states, Massachusetts, voted Republican Scott Brown into the Senate. Brown will take the seat Ted Kennedy held for 47 years. The victory, in which Brown beat his Democratic opponent, Martha Anne Coakley, by a 5 percent margin (52-47), came as a surprise both inside and outside of Washington, even for Brown himself. Viewed by some as a sign of a Republican resurgence, Brown’s win could cause more delays in Obama’s legislative goals before the mid-term elections in November.

“This seat does not belong to one person, or one political party,” said Brown in his victory speech, “this is the people’s seat.”

Brown continued to describe his win as “defying the odds and the pundits,” and then said he will be a “worthy successor” of the late Kennedy who died last August.

With only 11 percent of voters in Massachusetts registered as Republicans, Senate candidates from the Republican Party have always struggled in the traditionally blue state. Brown becomes the first Republican senator from Massachusetts since 1972.

“This is a lot different than my victory,” former Massachusetts Republican Gov. Mitt Romney told Fox News; “To have a Republican senator, that’s unheard of .This is monumental. This is epic.”

First-year political science major Andre Arguimbau describes this as a possible changing of the tide in Washington.

“For a member of the conservative party to claim the seat of one of the stalwarts of the Democratic Party is somewhat of a miracle,” Arguimbau said. “Obama and the Democrats have lost a lot of respect in the public’s eye because they simply haven’t gotten anything done.”

Ex-chairman of the Democratic National Committee and former Vermont Governor Howard Dean also sees Coakley’s defeat as a reaction to the Obama administration.

“The American people are very angry at Washington,” Dean said in a statement to BBC News. Dean described this as somewhat of a “populist revolt,” with the “convoluted” healthcare bill, and unregulated Wall Street.

With this victory, Republicans will break the Democrats’ 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in Washington, opening up new opportunities for legislative setbacks in the House. However, political science professor Kyle Dell holds out hope that the election of Brown will give a new reason for Republicans and Democrats to work cohesively and pass legislation they all can agree on.

Yet if there is one piece of legislation that the two parties cannot be expected to cooperate on, it is President Obama’s divisive healthcare reform bill.

Brown was stern in his opposition towards the healthcare bill in his victory speech and urged the Senate to swear him in as soon as possible. A 120,000-vote margin of victory makes it impossible for any proposed re-counts or challenges.

A disappointed Coakley said that she was “heartbroken” in her concession speech. Coakley continued to say that she still respects the voice of the people and thanked the Kennedy family for their support.

For Democrats around the country, Brown’s sudden victory served as a wake-up call for a new era of bipartisan tensions within the Senate and its relationship with the Obama administration.

“I have no interest in sugar-coating what happened in Massachusetts,” said chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Robert Menendez in a statement to Fox News. “There is a lot of anxiety in the country right now.”

“In the days ahead,” he said, “we will sort through the lessons of Massachusetts: the need to redouble our efforts on the economy, the need to show that our commitment to real change is as powerful as it was in 2008, and the reality that we cannot take a single thing for granted and cannot afford even a second of complacency.”

Dell agreed. “Voters do not want to hear from a politician that (an election) is a sure thing”, he said. “We like our politicians to be on a fairly short leash.”

Brown will run for re-election on the same ballot as the presidential election in November 2012.

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