In an epic upset in liberal Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown rode a wave of voter anger to defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in a U.S. Senate election Tuesday that left President Barack Obama's health care overhaul in doubt and marred the end of his first year in office.
The loss by the once-favored Coakley for the seat that the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy held for nearly half a century signaled big political problems for the president's party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.
More immediately, Brown will become the 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate, which could allow the GOP to block the president's health care legislation and the rest of Obama's agenda. Democrats needed Coakley to win for a 60th vote to thwart Republican filibusters.
Democratic fingerpointing began more than a week ago as polls started showing a tight race, with the White House accusing Coakley of a poor campaign and the Coakley camp laying at some of the blame on the administration. Obama flew to Boston for last-ditch personal campaigning on Sunday.
This isn't what Democrats had in mind. The race to fill the late Edward Kennedy's Senate seat in liberal Massachusetts neared its conclusion with not only its outcome but also the fate of President Obama's agenda in question.
A win by Republican Scott Brown on Tuesday would eliminate Democrats' 60-seat supermajority in the Senate and imperil some of Obama's key legislative objectives, including an overhaul of health care — a longtime cause of Kennedy's.
The swift rise of Brown, a relatively low-profile Republican state senator, in his race against Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley has spooked Democrats who had considered the seat one of their most reliable.
Democrats and Republicans ramped up election eve get-out-the-vote efforts in their close battle for a Massachusetts Senate seat that could decide the fate of President Barack Obama's health care overhaul and the rest of his agenda at the opening of the 2010 midterm campaign season.
Obama needs newly embattled Martha Coakley to win Tuesday's special election for the late Edward Kennedy's Senate seat and deny Republicans the ability to block his initiatives with a 41st filibuster-sustaining GOP vote.
The president campaigned here Sunday with Coakley, who has seen the double-digit lead she had two weeks ago evaporate under a strong challenge by Republican state Sen. Scott Brown.
Republican Scott Brown is surfing a wave of voter frustration with President Barack Obama that has helped propel the once low-profile Massachusetts state senator from long shot to contender in the race to fill the Senate seat left vacant by Edward Kennedy's death.
Brown's meteoric rise caught nearly everyone off-guard, particularly Democratic Party leaders who assumed their candidate, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, would have a cakewalk to the U.S. Capitol after winning a four-way primary in November.
They hadn't counted on voters like Luis Rodriguez.
His agenda potentially imperiled by the outcome of a close U.S. Senate race, President Barack Obama focused his attention and prestige Sunday on Massachusetts Democrat Martha Coakley, whose bid to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy has gone from shoo-in to nail-biter.
Obama planned to join Coakley at a Sunday afternoon rally at Northeastern University in Boston as the race entered the final stretch.
It was the latest and highest profile assist for Coakley, the state attorney general facing a strong challenge from Scott Brown, a Republican state senator.
A new poll in the Massachusetts Senate race shows a shift in favor of the Republican Party and a potential disaster for President Barack Obama and his Democratic political agenda in Tuesday's special election.
The Suffolk University survey released late Thursday showed Scott Brown, a Republican state senator, with 50 percent of the vote in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in this overwhelmingly Democratic state.
Democrat Martha Coakley had 46 percent. That was a statistical tie since it was within the poll's 4.4 percentage point margin of error, but far different from a 15-point lead the Massachusetts attorney general enjoyed in a Boston Globe survey released over the weekend.
The Republican Party's national chairman says he's had no thoughts of resigning despite criticism of his first-year performance and controversy about his recent book that takes shots at the GOP.
Michael Steele is apologizing for not alerting Republicans in advance about the book's release. In the book, he accuses GOP leaders of abandoning conservative principles over the past decade.
Steele also is defending his record as party chairman, saying he's "pushing the ball" for the GOP and helping the party win elections and raise money.
Americans would see only a modest rise in health care costs under the Senate's plan to extend coverage to 34 million people who currently go without health insurance, government economic experts say in a new report.
The study found that health spending, which accounts for about one-sixth of the economy, would increase by less than 1 percent than it otherwise would over the coming decade even with so many more people receiving coverage.
Over time, cost-cutting measures could start to reduce the annual increases in health care spending, offering the possibility of substantial savings in the long run. At the same time, however, some of the Senate's Medicare savings could be unrealistic and cause lawmakers to roll them back, according to Medicare's top number crunchers.
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid apologized on Saturday for saying the race of Barack Obama — whom he described as a "light skinned" African-American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one" — would help rather than hurt his eventual presidential bid.
Obama quickly accepted, saying "As far as I am concerned, the book is closed." Reid, facing a tough re-election bid this year, spent the day telephoning civil rights leaders and fellow Democrats in hopes of mitigating the political damage.
Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele offers a simple explanation for why the GOP all too often lost touch with typical Americans since the Ronald Reagan era: "We screwed up," he claims in a new book offering a blueprint for the party's resurgence.
That "we" includes the last two Republican presidents and the most recent Republican candidate for president.
In "Right Now: A 12-Step Program for Defeating the Obama Agenda," released Monday by Regnery Publishing, Steele says the GOP should acknowledge where "we most glaringly compromised our principles" in the past decade and hold its elected officials accountable.