GOP Wins Mass. Senate Seat, Could Derail HC Bill

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Liberal Massachusetts voted, Tuesday, to put a Republican in the vacant seat left by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.

With all but 3 percent of precincts counted, GOP canditate Scott Brown held the lead over opponent Martha Coakley, 52 percent to 47 percent. 

The impact of Brown's win could change the game for not only President Barack Obama's health care bill, but also for the Obama agenda.

The fingerpointing over the unexpected closeness of the special election started even before the polls opened with Democrats turning on one another and even on their candidate, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Polls showed Coakley's challenger, Republican candidate Scott Brown, erased her 30 point lead going into election day with Brown moving into a lead of up to 10 points in some surveys.

"Thank you very much," Brown told a cheering crowd. "I greatly appreciate your votes!"

It is an ice-cold shot in the arm for the bluest state in New England, where Democrats have a 3 to 1 advantage among registered voters. It has become a virtual tug-of-war contest over the Senate seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy for 46 years.

The impact of this Senate seat goes much deeper than Massachusetts. The result could determine the fate of Obama's health care overhaul. A Brown victory would give Republicans the votes they need to kill the bill. Brown has made it clear he is against the bill.

"Certainly, the dynamic will change depending on what happens in Massachusetts," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. "Well -- just a question of how we would proceed. But it doesn't mean that we won't have a health care bill."

The stakes are so high that some critics have suggested the Bay State might stall the winner's swearing-in ceremony. But Massachusett's Secretary of State William Francis Galvin said he is not playing politics with the results.

"I'm going to do everything I can to give the winner, whoever that winner is, the credentials they need as soon as possible," Galvin said.

Either way, top Democrats, looking down the road to the midterm elections, said there is a lesson to be learned here.

"Whether we win or lose, Democrats have to regard this race as a shot across our bough that we failed to heed at our own peril," said Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

It is a lesson they do not want to re-learn in November.

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