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Warren defeats Brown for Massachusetts Senate seat

Published: Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, November 7, 2012 09:11


Elizabeth Warren took the lead in a close race last night to unseat incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass., LA ‘81), bringing the Massachusetts U.S. senatorial seat back to blue. 

At press time, Warren took the state with 53.9 percent of the vote. Brown has held the contested seat since Feb. 4, 2010, after winning a special election over Democrat Martha Coakley for the late longtime Senator Ted Kennedy’s seat. 

The first female senator elected in Massachusetts, Warren is a Harvard Law Professor who has never held elected office. She is largely known for her work on consumer rights, which led to the creation of U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Warren referenced her seat’s former occupant in her acceptance speech, affirming her commitment to upholding his legacy in the state.

“It was exactly 50 years ago tonight that Senator Ted Kennedy was first elected to the United States Senate,” she said. “That night, 50 years ago, he said that he would dedicate all his strength and will to serve you in the United States Senate. For 47 years, he lived up to that promise. Tonight, I pledge to do the same.”

Warren also referred to Brown’s stated goals of uniting a bipartisan Senate as something she appreciated and wants to follow.

“We need leaders in Washington who are willing to break the partisan gridlock,” she said.

Brown, for his part, conceded with the promise of future political involvement.

“I’m going to still keep working for you, don’t worry,” he said. “Whatever the future holds, I am a fortunate man to be where I’ve been.”

The race, called at 9:47 p.m. by CNN, was close in part due to Brown’s moderate stance relative to many Republicans. Brown was named the Senate’s second-most bipartisan member of 2011, after Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), by Congressional Quarterly.

“It was just disappointing in general for the future of politics,” Ellie Monroe, a sophomore member of Tufts Republicans, said. “It wasn’t just a loss for him, it was a loss for the moderates and the bipartisan-ness of Congress in general.”

However, the Washington Post cited Brown as voting with the majority of Republicans in the Senate 80 percent of the time, and some Tufts students felt that other issues outweighed Brown’s bipartisan credentials in the election.

“Scott Brown was somebody pushing for bipartisanship, but at this point in time other issues were just more important,” freshman Jeramey Evans, who attended the Extravaganza, said.

The candidates differ on several issues, especially taxes and immigration. Although Brown signed the Grover Norquist anti-tax pledge, Warren is a proponent of the Buffet Rule that would impose a 30 percent tax rate on millionaires. Also, Warren is in favor of the DREAM Act, which Brown opposes. However, Brown purports to be a pro-choice candidate, and Warren has said she will not approve a Supreme Court nominee who is against abortion rights.

The close numbers heading into the election led to strong voter turnout, with early reports indicating that it would exceed the record 3.1 million Massachusetts residents who voted in the 2008 presidential election. Somerville’s voter turnout was around 71 percent, Somerville Patch reported.

“The precincts we voted at for Tufts had some of the highest voter turnout in the state,” Tufts Students for Elizabeth Warren Campus Coordinator Maggie Morrow, a sophomore, said.

The high turnout was reflective of the tight race, according to Associate Professor of Sociology Sarah Sobieraj.

“The incredible turnout within the state shows that people were aware of how close it was,” Sobieraj, an expert in politics and media, said. “It seemed the polls varied day by day.”

Warren and Brown were head-to-head in a University of Massachusetts, Lowell poll just days before the election, and the race has been a “hotbed of uncertainty,” unusual for Massachusetts, according to Sobieraj. This led to an antagonistic vibe not found in most Massachusetts races, she said.

“I think it

 was fairly calm towards the end, but at the beginning it was fairly heated,” Sobieraj said. 

Another indicator of the contest’s confrontational nature was the number and force of the campaign advertisements running in the state, which Sobieraj said made Massachusetts feel like a swing state.

“I think residents were naive to that,” she said. 

Tufts students on both sides of the aisle had been campaigning for months, and many went into the greater Boston area yesterday to sway voters. Bronwen Raff, president of Tufts Democrats and an intern for the Elizabeth Warren campaign since September, said she got an email at 1 p.m. yesterday emphasizing the closeness of the race and sent 40 canvassers to get last-minute votes. 

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