Brown, Coakley win Massachusetts Senate seat primaries amid low voter turnout

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley
Image: Fogster.

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and Massachusetts State Senator Scott P. Brown who represents the Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex District have won their parties' respective primaries amid low voter turnout to replace the seat of the late Ted Kennedy who died after losing his battle with brain cancer last August.

Coakley won out by 47 percent over three other candidates, who included Representative Michael Capuano who represents Massachusetts' 8th congressional district; Alan Khazei, the co-founder and former CEO of City Year, a national youth service organization which was founded in Boston; and Stephen Pagliuca, a managing director of private equity firm Bain Capital and managing partner of the Boston Celtics basketball team.

Coakley went into the campaign with a large lead, announcing her candidacy just days after Kennedy's death. Her status as Attorney General has helped her name recognition as she was the only candidate with statewide name recognition. Capuano is less known due to the fact his name only appears on the ballot in the communities he serves as part of the 8th congressional district.

Brown, the State Senator for the Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex District and an officer in the Army National Guard, won by a landslide with 89 percent over Jack E. Robinson III, an attorney and businessman who ran against Ted Kennedy as the Republican nominee in the 2000 Senate election along seeking two other offices.

Voter turnout was low, mostly because of the timing of the primary, which is just a month after voters went to the polls in November to vote in local elections, combined with the cold temperatures as winter finally arrived in Massachusetts this past week with the first snow occurring on Saturday.

Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin said that he expected turnout to be "very light" with 500,000 to 900,000 voters out of Massachusetts 4.1 million registered voters participating. He added that the turnout would be much closer to "to the 5 than to the 9." Galvin further noted that turnout would mostly consist of Democrat and Republican voters and not independents noting that, "My instinct is that the independents are not participating."

Capuano's campaign hoped that low turnout would help him due to the large number of voters in the Boston area where Capuano is widely known and liked due to his representation of the area plus his past as Mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts.

Wikinews reporter Patrick Mannion noted that turnout was low at his local polling place, with no campaigners outside holding signs and only 155 votes recorded on the machine for his precinct.

Cquote1.svg She'll be a strong, progressive leader for our state. Cquote2.svg

—Stephen Pagliuca

The Democrat candidates gave their concessions to Coakley, with Capunao noting, "I want to congratulate the next senator of Massachusetts, Martha Coakley. She ran a good campaign and it was a good clean campaign. I want to be there to make her the next senator." Pagliuca said, "We've really got to reverse this problem of unemployment and I'll work with the nominee to get that done." He said of Coakley, "She'll be a strong, progressive leader for our state."

Khazei addressed his supporters saying, "We all came into this campaign knowing the climb was steep, the calendar short and the odds long, but you were so committed to the idea that citizens matter and can make a difference that you sacrificed and worked and, boy, did you work, and you brought pride to the campaign and the Commonwealth."

Cquote1.svg Send another partisan placeholder to the United States Senate or we can try something new, we can elect an independent voice for all of Massachusetts — and that's the US senator I promise to be. Cquote2.svg

—Scott Brown

Brown repeatedly noted that voters have a choice in the overwhelmingly Democratic state saying, "Send another partisan placeholder to the United States Senate or we can try something new, we can elect an independent voice for all of Massachusetts — and that's the US senator I promise to be." Brown also appealed to independents noting, "Never underestimate the independent spirit of Massachusetts. A year has passed since one-party rule came to Washington and the last thing we need is more of it." Brown closed by stating, "I believe in limited government and the boundless power of the free market to create jobs and wealth for our people."

Brown and Coakley will now face each other along with independent candidate Joseph Kennedy, who has no relation to the late Senator or his family, in the special election which will be held on January 19, 2010.

The winner will take over the Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy himself along with former Presidents John Quincy Adams and the brother of Ted Kennedy, John F. Kennedy. Other notable past Senators include Daniel Webster, Charles Sumner, Henry Cabot Lodge, and his son Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. The winner will replace Paul G. Kirk, a longtime friend of Senator Kennedy who is currently holding the seat as a interim appointee.


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