U.S. Senate special election, Massachusetts, 2010

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A 2010 United States Senate special election took place in Massachusetts on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, to fill the United States Senate seat left vacant following the death of former United States Senator Edward M. Kennedy on August 25, 2009.

Republican Scott P. Brown emerged victorious, with Democrat Martha Coakley conceding the election about 90 minutes after the polls closed when about 70% of polls had reported their results.

The election drew intense national interest, primarily because of the ramifications it is thought to have for efforts by the Congressional Democratic leadership to pass a comprehensive, yet still controversial, health care legislation through before President Obama's State of the Union address in February.

The election pitted Republican Brown, a fiscal conservative and Washington outsider, against Coakley, an unabashed supporter of President Barack Obama's agenda.[1] Her support, according to influential progressive blogger Markos Moulitsas, comes from "the party machine, organized labor, and other allies."[2]

Stakes in the race were high, since the Democratic Party would have retained its 60-40 filibuster-proof supermajority had Coakley won.[3][4]

Brown is the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from blue-state Massachusetts in nearly half-a-century and the only Republican in the state's U.S. Congressional delegation. All of the elected statewide constitutional officers in Massachusetts are also Democrats.

Analysis of Coakley loss

In the wake of the historic loss, a number of theories have been offered to explain Coakley's loss.[5]

Explanations that have been offered include:

  • Coakley was a bad candidate, especially compared to Brown.[6],[7]
  • "She was burdened by a year's worth of policy from the Obama administration which is out of sync with America, even in a deep blue state," according to top Republican strategist Karl Rove.[8]
  • The election shows that independent and moderate voters in a deep-blue state are increasingly uncomfortable with, and ready to reject, what they are coming to see as a left-leaning domestic policy agenda out-of-synch with what they expected after the country's 2008 presidential election. Democratic U.S. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana said, "The only we are able to govern successfully in this country is by liberals and progressives making common cause with independents and moderates. Whenever you have just the furthest left elements of the Dem party attempting to impose their will on the rest of the country -- that’s not going to work too well."[5]


Massachusetts state law requires a special election to be held on a Tuesday, on a date to be determined by the governor, no less than 145 days but not exceeding 160 days from the date of the office's vacancy. Senator Kennedy's death on August 25, 2009, placed the election date between January 17 and February 1, 2010. Massachusetts state law stipulates that a party primary must be held the sixth Tuesday before the general election contest. Governor Deval Patrick announced on August 31, 2009, that he had scheduled the special election for January 19, 2010, with the party primaries set for December 8, 2009.


Standard qualifications necessary to run for senatorial office include being at least 30 years of age, a United States citizen for at least nine years prior to the date of the election, and, in this instance, an inhabitant of Massachusetts when elected. The state of Massachusetts requires that in order to be placed on the ballot the candidate for the United States Senate must file nomination papers with the certified signatures of 10,000 Massachusetts voters, by deadlines established by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, in this case William F. Galvin. To be considered for the primary election, a candidate must, unless a newly registered voter, have been an enrolled member of the party for the 90 days preceding the filing deadline with the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and must not have been enrolled in any other party in the previous year.

December 8, 2009 primaries

Donkey symbol.png Democratic primary


  • Martha Coakley, elected as Attorney General of Massachusetts in 2006, announced her candidacy on September 3, 2009.[9]
  • Stephen Pagliuca, private equity investor, managing partner of Bain Capital, and co-owner of the Boston Celtics basketball team, made his candidacy official on September 17, 2009.[10]
  • Mike Capuano, member of the United States House of Representatives for the 8th Congressional District, made his entry into the race on September 18, 2009.[11]
  • Alan Khazei, an American social entrepreneur who is the president and CEO of Be the Change, Inc., vowed to run a “citizen-led, citizen-energized, and citizen-financed campaign during his announcement speech on September 24, 2009.[12]

Electoral results

2010 Race for United States Senate - Democratic Primary[13]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Democratic Party Approveda Martha Coakley 46.6%
     Democratic Party Mike Capuano 27.7%
     Democratic Party Alan Khazei 13.3%
     Democratic Party Stephen Pagliuca 12.0%
     Write-In 0.4%
Total Votes 668,926

Gop logo2.jpg Republican primary


  • Scott P. Brown, a member of the Massachusetts State Senate representing the 25th District, established an exploratory committee on September 9, 2009. He made it clear that if Andrew Card, former White House Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush, chose to run for the Republican nomination that he would not challenge him. Card, however, decided not to run and endorsed Brown's candidacy. Brown officially launched his senatorial campaign on September 12, 2009.[14]
  • Jack E. Robinson III, who unsuccessfully ran for the exact same senate seat against Edward M. Kennedy in 2000, marked his entry into the race at around the same time Brown did.

Electoral results

2010 Race for United States Senate - Republican Primary[15]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Scott P. Brown 88.8%
     Republican Party Jack E. Robinson 10.5%
     Write-In 0.7%
Total Votes 164,540

Other candidates

  • Joseph L. Kennedy, Reporting Secretary for the Massachusetts Libertarian Party, is on the special election ballot as an independent. He is not related to the Kennedy family.
  • John Howard, founder of the Purple Mass Group, has mounted a write in campaign.

General election campaign

United States Senate
U.S. Senate Seal.png
Elections, 2010
Primary election dates, 2010


Scott P. Brown

  • Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation (CLT), the group that spearheaded passage of Prop 2 1/2 in 1980[16]
  • Boston Herald[17]
  • Cambridge Police Patrol Officers Association[18]
  • Curt Schilling, former Boston Red Sox pitcher[19]
  • Commissioned Officers Association of the Massachusetts State Police
  • Doug Flutie, former Heisman Trophy winner[20]
  • Fred Thompson, actor, former senator and presidential candidate[21]
  • James Sheets, six term Democratic mayor of Quincy[22]
  • Lawrence Eagle Tribune[23]
  • Local 504 - International Brotherhood of Police Officers
  • Local 911 - New England Police Benevolent Association
  • Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and presidential candidate[24]
  • NFIB SAFE Trust[25]
  • Rudolph Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City and presidential candidate[26]
  • Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska and vice-presidential candidate[27]
  • Senator John McCain, former presidential candidate and Republican from Arizona[28]
  • State Police Association of Massachusetts[29]
  • Tea Party Express
  • Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota[30]
  • Veterans for Scott Brown
  • Worcester Telegram & Gazette[31]

Martha Coakley

Polling data

Suffolk University Poll

Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts, surveyed 500 registered Massachusetts voters between September 12 and September 15, 2009, and found that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley held a significant early lead in a head-to-head contest with her Republican opponent, Scott P. Brown. The polling data, however, was heavily skewered against Brown. Of the 500 registered voters who took part in the survey, 39% identified themselves as registered Democrats and 44% as independents. Only 15% indicated they were registered Republicans.

Suffolk University Poll - September 12-15, 2009[38]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Martha Coakley (D) 54%
Scott P. Brown (R) 24%
Undecided 20%
Total voters 500


Western New England College (WNEC), a private college in Springfield, Massachusetts, randomly dialed 522 adults ages 18 and older drawn from across the state of Massachusetts between October 18 and 22, 2009. There are quite a number of problems with this method of data collecting, among them the fact that like many states Massachusetts has a do not call list. As was the case with the Suffolk University poll a month earlier, the WNEC telephone surveyed heavily favored the Democratic candidate. Of the 468 registered voters who took part in the telephone interview, 363 identified themselves as either registered Democrats or independents.

WNEC Poll - October 18-22, 2009[39]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Martha Coakley (D) 55%
Scott P. Brown (R) 29%
Undecided 16%
Total voters 468

Suffolk University 2nd Poll

The second survey conducted Suffolk University, this time two months after the original and apparently using a random-dialing system, suffered the same complications as the first. Of the 600 registered voters who took part in the telephone interview, 226, or 38%, identified themselves as registered Democrats and 46% considered themselves independents; again, only 15% declared themselves registered Republicans. Another problem was that survey skewered heavily against minorities with 89% of the interviewees identifying themselves as white or caucasian.

Suffolk University Poll - November 4-8, 2009[40]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Martha Coakley (D) 58%
Scott P. Brown (R) 27%
Other 15%
Undecided 9%
Total voters 600

Boston Globe poll

As with previous polls conducted in the run-up to the January 19 election, this telephone survey of 546 likely voters weighed decidedly Democratic. Of those who took part in the interview, 197, or 36% of interviewees, were registered Democrats and 278 were undeclared; only 71, or 13%, identified themselves as registered Republicans.

Boston Globe Poll - January 2-6, 2010[41]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Martha Coakley (D) 50%
Scott P. Brown (R) 35%
Joseph L. Kennedy (Libertarian) 5%
Undecided 9%
Total voters 554

Rasmussen poll

Rasmussen Poll - January 4, 2010[42]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Martha Coakley (D) 50%
Scott P. Brown (R) 41%
Other 1%
Undecided 7%
Total voters 500

Public Policy poll

As with all previous polling data concerning this specific race, the Public Policy Polling (PPP) telephone survey suffers from being heavily slanted in favor of the Democratic candidate, at least on the surface. What differentiates this poll from the others is that it breaks down the interviewees based on ideological preferences. While party breakdown consisted of 44% Democrats, 17% Republicans, and 39% independents, the ideological analysis showed that of the 744 likely voters only 26% identified themselves as liberals with 27% categorizing their political views as conservative; the other 47% viewed themselves as politically moderate.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) Poll - January 7-9, 2010[43]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Scott P. Brown (R) 48%
Martha Coakley (D) 47%
Undecided 6%
Total voters 744

Rasmussen 2nd poll

Rasmussen Poll - January 11, 2010[44]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Martha Coakley (D) 49%
Scott P. Brown (R) 47%
Joseph Kennedy 3%
Undecided 2%
Total voters 1,000

Suffolk University 3rd poll

The third and final poll conducted by Suffolk University prior to the January 19 special election had Scott Brown take a four-point lead, which was within the survey's margin of error. Regardless, political experts and pollsters viewed this poll as a possible game changer in the Senate special election contest in a state that has long been a Democratic stronghold. David Paleologos, director of Suffolk’s Political Research Center, viewed this as "a massive change in the political landscape"[45] marking Massachusetts's shift in becoming a more purple state, breaking away from the traditional blue state it has been known for.

Important to Brown's campaign, the survey shows sixty-five percent of the independent voting bloc breaking for the Massachusetts State Senator compared to Coakley's thirty percent and Kennedy's three percent; only one percent of independent voters are undecided based on the polling data. If there is a heavy Democratic turnout at the polls on Election Day as the Coakley campaign anticipates there will be, Brown will need a lopsided victory with independent voters in order to offset this and remain competitive. Even more significant, however, is that the latest Suffolk University poll "has the same number of Dems crossing for Brown as PPP did last weekend — 17 percent, a shocking amount."[46]

The favorable/unfavorable ratings of the two major party candidates are very telling in describing the state of the special election contest in the eyes of those surveyed. While Coakley's favorable/unfavorable ratings are fairly even at 49-41 (with ten percent undecided), Brown enjoys a far more ample ratio of 57-19 and nineteen percent undecided in their opinion.

Suffolk University Poll - January 11-13, 2010[47]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Scott P. Brown (R) 50%
Martha Coakley (D) 46%
Joseph Kennedy 3%
Undecided 1%
Total voters 500

American Research Group poll

America Research Group, Inc., the United States opinion polling and marketing research company based out of Manchester, New Hampshire, surveyed 600 randomly chosen likely voters. As has been the case with every poll concerning the Massachusetts special election up to this point, the poll heavily favored the Democrats with 44% of those who took part in the interview being registered members; the rest of the survey's makeup was 20% Republican and 36% undecided.

What is notable about the polling data is that not only does it show Brown leading Coakley among independent voters 58% - 37%, but also, and perhaps more significantly, among the nine percent of likely voters who said they had already voted by absentee ballot, 58% to 42%.

American Research Group Poll - January 12-14, 2010[48]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Scott P. Brown (R) 48%
Martha Coakley (D) 45%
Joseph Kennedy 2%
Undecided 5%
Total voters 600

Public Policy 2nd poll

Public Policy Polling (PPP) conducted their second and, quite possibly, last survey prior to the January 19 special election in Massachusetts. After interviewing 1,231 likely voters, Brown was shown to have a slight lead, within the margin of error, over his opponent, Martha Coakley. There also was other data that will certainly make Democratic strategists nervous come election day. The first is that among independents Brown is holding a significant margin of victory, 64 to 32. Perhaps more damning to Coakley's campaign, and to the White House as well, is that Brown has won over "20% of the vote from people who supported Barack Obama in 2008 while Coakley is getting just 4% of the McCain vote."[49] And white favorability ratings are expected to decline over the course of a campaign, particularly one as heated as this one, Coakley's favorability among voters fell from 50% to 44% while Brown's slumped barely one percentage point, from 57% to 56%.

Public Policy Polling (PPP) Poll - January 16-17, 2010[50]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Scott P. Brown (R) 51%
Martha Coakley (D) 46%
Undecided 4%
Total voters 1,231

InsiderAdvantage poll

The InsiderAdvantage survey conducted for Politico and released just a day before the Massachusetts voters go to the polls to decide who their next senator will be shows Martha Coakley in a free fall. Besides the fact that her Republican opponent holds a steady nine-point lead in the special election contest, there are other numbers when one breaks down the polling data that are sure to give Democratic strategists, statewide as well as nationally, pause. Not only are a quarter of Democratic voters lining up to vote for Brown, the once unknown state senator is crushing "Coakley by 41 points among self-described independents, a group that's been steadily inching away from the Democratic party over the last year."[51]

InsiderAdvantage Poll - January 17, 2010[52]
Candidates Percentage
Green check mark.jpg Scott P. Brown (R) 52.2%
Martha Coakley (D) 43.1%
Joseph Kennedy (Libertarian) 1.9%
Undecided 2.8%
Total voters 804

Presidential visit

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs originally stated on January 11, 2010, that, despite both President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden making several personal personal campaign appearance in support of gubernatorial candidates in both New Jersey and Virginia in November 2009, "the president doesn't have any travel plans to campaign in Massachusetts."[53] Republican candidate Scott Brown himself requested that the president "stay away and let Martha and I discuss the issues one on one."[54]

With the race in Massachusetts becoming increasingly closer with each passing day, the White House chose to reverse course and take a more active role in the lead up to the special election. Jake Tapper, Senior White House Correspondent for ABC News in Washington, D.C., first reported on Friday, January 15, 2010, that the "POTUS will travel to Mass. Sunday to campaign for Dem candidate Coakley."[55] President Obama stood with Coakley on stage at Northeastern University's Cabot Physical Education Center in downtown Boston and spoke to a crowd of supporters, numbering between 2,000 and 2,500. Carl Cameron of FOX News noted that, despite an appearance by the president, Coakley's supporters were unable to fill up the hall which normally holds 3,000 people.[56] In his speech, Obama urged Coakley's supporters to "understand what's at stake," noting that "a lot of these measures are gonna rest on one vote in the United States Senate,"[57] including health care reform. In the course of his speech, President Obama was "visibly thrown off by the untimely interruption"[58] of several protestors, including one man carrying a sign that read 'Jesus Loves Babies'.


Coakley's campaign claimed that as of January 8, 2010, the Democratic candidate had raised over $5.2 million in total, with nearly $1 million coming from contributions in the previous six weeks before the announcement.[59] This is a significant amount when one compares her total contributions to that of her Republican opponent, who raised $700,000 in the six weeks before the start of the new year.[60]

Conservative bloggers, however, are calling Coakley's bluff, believing her campaign is overstating the amount of money she currently has on hand. Coakley "started the special election campaign with only $500k in the bank"[61] and, having three challengers in the Democratic primary, more than likely spent a fair amount of the $1 million her campaign said she raised in the six weeks prior to the first of the new year.

Scott P. Brown held a 24-hour moneybomb, a grassroots fundraising effort held over a brief fixed time period, beginning at midnight EST on Monday, January 11, 2010 with a goal of raising $500,000. The Republican candidate was able to reach that financial milestone a little past 4pm EST that day.[62] By the end of the day, Brown's campaign had successfully raised over $1 million, more than twice the original goal.[63]

Clearly nervous about the state of the special election race in Massachusetts and Brown's burgeoning support across the state, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) "purchased $567K in ads in the Boston and Springfield markets," both heavily Democratic areas.[64] At around the same time, the SEIU took out a television ad buy worth "$685,000, one of the largest of the election."[65]



In 2004, the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts withdrew the authority of the Governor of Massachusetts not only to fill a United States Senate vacancy by appointment, but to make an interim selection as well. The Massachusetts State Senate, on party lines, voted for the change to prevent Republican Governor Mitt Romney from appointing a Republican to fill the remainder of Democratic Senator John Kerry's United States Senate term on the chance Kerry was able to beat incumbent President George W. Bush in the presidential election contest. Governor Romney objected to the measure, believing it was "robbing the citizens of the right to a free election," and vetoed it.[66] Romney's veto, however, was easily overridden in both the State House and Senate nearly a month later.[67]

It was Senator Edward Kennedy's personal appeals to the Massachusetts Democratic legislative leaders that was able to help get the bill passed after it had been stalled for a lengthy time. Kennedy himself directly benefited from the nearly century-old electoral rules in 1960 when his brother, John F. Kennedy, was elected president. Then-Governor Foster Furcolo, a Democrat, appointed Benjamin Smith, a former college roommate of the president's. This, in turn, prevented anyone from making a name for themselves until Edward Kennedy was able to run for the seat two years later.

Five years later, however, Kennedy reversed himself. Seven days prior to his death, the Massachusetts senator communicated to both the governor and the state legislature his desire to amend the law back to what it was before, allowing the governor to appoint an interim senator to serve until the time when a special election could be held to fill the office. With significant legislative issues on the agenda for the Congress in the coming year, chief among them health care reform, Senator John Kerry and President Barack Obama expressed support for Kennedy's dying request.

Availability comment

In the wake of his historic victory in the Massachusetts special election, a comment Brown made in the midst of his acceptance speech has ignited controversy not only among his liberal distractors, but his most ardent conservative supporters as well. During his victory speech on the evening of the January 19 senatorial election, Brown, in thanking his two daughters, Ayla and Arianna, for their loving support throughout the course of the campaign, jokingly commented that his oldest daughter, Ayla, was available.

Immediately after this comment was made, a number of female conservative bloggers, including Kathleen McKinley, tweeted their surprise concerning the remark.[68] Radio and FOX News personality Glenn Beck ripped into Brown for the improvised joke the next morning, calling for a "chastity belt on this man" because he believed "this one could end with a dead intern."[69] Another conservative commentator Mark Levin, who has been known to criticize Beck in the past, slammed him for the criticism, remarking that the ribbing of his oldest daughter "actually shows he is a good family man."[70]

A few days later, Beck apologized, first on his own radio program then later on Jay Severin's broadcast show based out of Boston, "for making a big deal in the first flush of victory about Brown’s own joke on his daughters on election night."[71]

Election Day

  • The Boston Phoenix published a story (with screenshots) showing the Boston Globe posting the final results of the Massachusetts special election eight hours prior to poll closings. A fully interactive map with town-by-town results shows that "over 2 million people voted, with Coakley eking out a 50-49 victory,"[72] precisely what political pollster John Zogby predicted would take place.
  • A woman, reportedly Isabel Melendez, "a Democratic community activist who ran for mayor of Lawrence in 2001,"[73] was videotaped carrying around blank absentee ballots in spanish and telling people how to vote for Martha Coakley. The video was subsequently posted on YouTube.[74] The deadline to apply for absentee ballots for the January 19 special election was Friday, January 15.
  • Election Journal posted a number of photographs taken at polling sites across Boston, Massachusetts showing Martha Coakley campaign signs posted right outside the entrances.[75] If true, these would be a violation of "General Law chapter 54, section 65 [which] prohibits within 150 feet of a polling location, among other things, the posting, exhibition, circulation, or distribution of material--including pasters, stickers, posters, cards, handbills, placards, pictures or circulars--intended to influence the action of the voter."[76]
  • Coakley's campaign staged a last minute press conference at 6pm on election night accusing Scott Brown's camp of election tampering. They "claim five people stepped forward claiming to have pre-marked ballots for Scott Brown at the polls."[77] Democratic Secretary of State William F. Galvin, however, is "discounting reports of voter irregularities in the state's Senate special election,"[78] noting of two reported incidents, neither of which could be verified nor found to be widespread.

Ethics complaint

See also: Service Employees International Union

Late in the Democratic primary campaign for the Massachusetts United States Senate seat, Coakley received both the physical and monetary assistance of the SEIU in the form of a radio advertisement buy "totaling $214,000 in the Boston area."[79] A week earlier, the ethical use of state public resources was questioned when the SEIU Local 509, the "union representing state employees, sent an email urging state workers to volunteer for Coakley’s campaign."[80] Three weeks after this report was released, her Republican opponent Scott Brown "filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission."[81]

Neutrality pledge

One of the key stipulations that allowed state Democrats to change the law in order to appoint Kennedy aide Paul G. Kirk as interim senator was language in the legislation that prevented him from "endorsing any candidate in the special election.” On January 8, 2010, however, Kirk made an appearance at a Coakley campaign event and gave her a resounding endorsement. In response to allegations from Brown supporters that he had egregiously violated the terms of his interim appointment to the U.S. Senate, Kirk defended his endorsement by arguing that he did not believe "his endorsement will 'make a large difference' in the Senate race."[82] Republican critics professed not to be surprised at what they regarded as a perfidious act, with one pundit writing, "as Kennedy himself so amply demonstrated in life, Massachusetts laws don’t apply to Kennedys, and apparently they don’t apply to their coatholders, either."[83]

Reporter shoving allegation

Coakley's non-reaction to the alleged shoving episode, according to William A. Jacobson, a professor of law in Ithaca, New York, is the most important part of the shoving allegation story.[84]

John McCormack, a reporter for the weekly newsmagazine Weekly Standard, tried to speak with Martha Coakley outside the Washington, DC restaurant Sonoma on Wednesday, January 12. Coakley was attending a fundraising event at the restaurant. The exchange between Coakley and McCormack included this:

John McCormack: Attorney General Coakley, you said last night that there are no terrorists in Afghanistan--that they're all in Yemen and Pakistan. Do you stand by that remark?
Coakley: I'm sorry, did someone else have a question?
Griff Jenkins, Fox News : I did. Why are you in Washington tonight?
Coakley: We planned an event after the primary that would be a unity event in Washington. We're also in the middle of a very intense campaign [...]

McCormack reported that after this exchange:

"As I walked down the street, a man who appeared to be associated with the Coakley campaign pushed me into a freestanding metal railing. I ended up on the sidewalk. I was fine. He helped me up from the ground, but kept pushing up against me, blocking my path toward Coakley down the street.
He asked if I was with the media, and I told him I work for THE WEEKLY STANDARD. When I asked him who he worked for he replied, "I work for me." He demanded to see my credentials, and even though it was a public street, I showed them to him."[85]

McCormack says of the incident, "Coakley staffers told me they didn't know who the man was who pushed me, though by every indication he was somehow connected to the campaign."[85]

Video of McCormack allegedly being shoved on January 12, 2010

Later, the Associated Press reported that the alleged shover was Michael Meehan.[86] In addition to being president of Blue Line Strategic Communications based in Washington, D.C.[86], Meehan also served as chief of staff to Senator Maria Cantwell and as an advisor to Senator John Kerry's presidential campaign.[87] Most recently, he was nominated on November 18, 2009, by President Barack Obama to sit on the Broadcasting Board of Governors.[88]

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee released a statement saying that the incident was a "GOP dirty trick."[89] Eric Schultz, a spokesperson for the DSCC, said, "It is no surprise that Washington Republicans are trying to use every dirty trick they have to throw the Coakley campaign off their stride, but we are determined to end this campaign talking about the issues that matter to voters, like creating jobs and lowering middle class taxes."[89]

The Los Angeles Times writes that McCormack "fell," suggesting that he landed on the sidewalk not because he was shoved, as McCormack alleges, but because "He was simultaneously videotaping [Coakley] and trying to pass a metal grate on a Washington sidewalk."[5] The Los Angeles Times reporter also characterizes Meehan as "trying to help McCormack up."The paper says that Meehan interacted with McCormack because Meehan was trying to ascertain whether McCormack "was an operative of a rival campaign."[5]

Meehan eventually released a "statement admitting error (though not conceding bullying) and saying he also apologized directly to the Standard reporter, John McCormack."[90]

Coakley said that she was not "'privy to the facts' surrounding the incident involving reporter John McCormack" and that she herself "didn’t see what happened." Brown's supporters in the conservative press cried "foul" at this as tempers flared in the last heated week of the campaign, with many images of the Associated Press photograph of the incident that appears to show Coakley observing McCormack prone on the sidewalk reprinted on conservative blogs and websites.[91] Other conservative supporters of Brown cautioned that the alleged shoving incident was a distraction because, it was said, it doesn't have "any value in helping Massachusetts voters decide whether to vote for Coakley."[92]

Senate seat certification

In the midst of the special election campaign, health care reform came to the forefront of the national debate. The United States Senate version of the health care measure barely passed on Christmas Eve 2009 with a sixty vote majority, strictly on party lines. The loss of just one vote would seriously jeopardize efforts to pass the joint House and Senate version of the bill. This put the Massachusetts special election in the national spotlight. The Democratic primary winner, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who has flipped-flopped on the issue of health care during the course of the campaign, said most recently that she would likely support the passage of health care reform. Scott Brown, the Republican candidate, on the other hand has said that he plans on being the 41st vote to kill the measure.

With this in mind, the Democratic leadership, both nationally and within the state of Massachusetts itself, appear willing to delay the certification of the winner of the special election in order to pass health care reform in the Senate should Brown be elected. While a spokesman for Secretary of State Bill Galvin's office has suggested that the "certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor's Council would take a while," another source has indicated that Galvin will not certify the winner of the election, should it turn out to be Scott Brown, "until Feb. 20 - well after the president’s [State of the Union] address."[93]

Massachusetts state law dictates that an appointed senator, in this case Paul Kirk, must remain in office until election and qualification of the person duly elected to fill the vacancy. Republican Party attorneys have argued, however, that "an appointed senator’s right to vote is not dependent on whether his successor has been certified." In other words, following Tuesday's special election, Kirk might lose the right to cast a vote on behalf of the state of Massachusetts in the United States Senate, even if a recount, which can only occur "if the margin of victory is less than half a percent of the total vote,"[94] is enacted.

On the eve of Scott Brown's historic election victory, Democratic Virginia Senator Jim Webb, who, in 2006, unseated Republican incumbent George Allen, released a statement in which he said "it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated."[95]

Nearly two and a half weeks after his historic victory in Massachusetts, attorneys for Senator-elect Scott Brown demanded the certification of the special election results and the swearing in of their client prior to the Congressional recess beginning on Friday, February 5, 2010, six days earlier then originally scheduled.[96] Presided over by Vice President Joe Biden, Scott Brown was sworn in as a United States Senator at 5pm on February 4, 2010.[97]

UPS mailer

The Massachusetts Democratic Party, in an attempt to erode Scott Brown's burgeoning support, particularly among independent voters, distributed a pamphlet that has drawn the ire of Atlanta-based United Parcel Service (UPS). The mailer, which lists the state Democratic Party as having funded the pamphlet, parodies the international shipping company's slogan 'What can brown do for you?', showing "Scott Brown dressed up as a UPS driver and says, 'He can reward corporations that ship your job overseas just like George W. Bush.'"[98] Lawyers for UPS sent an email to the Massachusetts Democratic Party demanding they cease all further distribution of the mailer.


Coakley drew the ire of not only her Republican opponent, Scott Brown, but the local state media as well when she decided to take a vacation just twenty days before a special election was to be held in Massachusetts to decide who will the vacant United States Senate seat. Holly Robichaud at The Boston Herald questioned whether Coakley "need[ed] the rest or she [is] just the most cocky candidate in the Commonwealth’s history?"[99]

World Trade Center ad

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which just days before the January 19 special election "purchased $567K in ads in the Boston and Springfield markets,"[64] released a television advertisement on Friday, January 15, 2010, painting Republican candidate Scott P. Brown "as a Wall Street crony who is out of touch with the normal, everyday people of Massachusetts."[100] What had tongues wagging, not to mention the DSCC scrambling to remove the advertisement, however, was the use of "an unlikely symbol of Wall Street greed: the World Trade Center,"[101] in addition to the now destroyed Merriott hotel on the center's western side.

And while the DSCC was successful in their efforts to remove the controversial ad from the air waves and replace it with an altered one, the original is still available for viewing on internet resources such as YouTube and Real Clear Politics.[102] Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani expressed his lack of amusement over the advertisement and explained that this is just the latest example understating "how excessively negative they've become since they’re so paranoid about losing this seat."[103]

January 19, 2010 general election

Electoral results

Mass special election map.png
2010 Race for United States Senate - General Election[104]
Party Candidate Vote Percentage
     Republican Party Approveda Scott P. Brown 51.9%
     Democratic Party Martha Coakley 47.1%
     Liberty Party Joseph Kennedy 1.0%
Total Votes 2,252,582

External links

General Election candidates

Former candidates


  1. "About Martha Coakley"
  2. Markos Moulitsas writing at Daily Kos, "MA-Sen: No longer stealth," January 13, 2010
  3. Congressional Quarterly, "Brown Goes After Coakley in Third Ad," January 10, 2010
  4. Politico, "Charlie Cook: Brown now favored" 17 Jan. 2010
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Los Angeles Times, "Far left has taken over Democratic Party," January 19, 2010
  6. Washington Post, "Mass. Hysteria," January 20, 2010
  7. Open Left, "Why Scott Brown Won," January 19, 2010
  8. Fox News, "Democrats Will Blame Coakley," January 19, 2010
  9. Boston Globe, "AG Coakley officially announces run for Senate" 3 Sept. 2009
  10. Boston Globe, "Celtics co-owner Pagliuca plots Senate run" 14 Sept. 2009
  11. NECN " Rep. Capuano announces candidacy for U.S." 18 Sept. 2009
  12. Boston Globe, "Khazei enters race for Kennedy Senate seat" 25 Sept. 2009
  13. Massachusetts Elections Division - Special State Democratic Primary Results
  14. Red Mass Group, "Scott Brown Announcement Video" 12 Sept. 2009
  15. Massachusetts Elections Division - Special State Republican Primary Results
  16. Kennedy Seat, "Scott Brown picks up CLT endorsement; kicks off "Kitchen Table Conversations" 11 Dec. 2009
  17. Boston Herald, "Herald: Scott Brown for U.S. Senate" 11 Jan. 2010
  18. Massachusetts Municipal Police Coalition, "Cambridge Police Patrol Officers endorse State Senator Scott Brown for United States Senator" 15 Jan. 2010
  19. Politico, "Curt Schilling endorses Scott Brown in Mass. Senate race" 4 Jan. 2010
  20. Red State, "Doug Flutie Endorses Scott Brown" 13 Jan. 2010
  21. Washington Independent, "Fred Thompson Endorses Scott Brown" 6 Jan. 2010
  22. Red Mass Group, "Former Quincy Mayor and lifelong Democrat James Sheets endorses Scott Brown" 18 Jan. 2010
  23. Lawrence Eagle Tribune, "Editorial: Electing Brown sends real change to the Senate" 10 Jan. 2010
  24. Mitt Romney Central, "Scott Brown Could be our 41st Vote in the Senate!" 30 Dec. 2009
  25. NFIB - Massachusetts U.S. Senate Special Election News
  26. Boston Herald, "Rudy Giuliani joins Scott Brown, slams Martha Coakley on terrorism" 15 Jan. 2010
  27. Sarah Palin's Twitter account
  28. Boston Globe, "Republican gets McCain’s nod; rival adds to her list" 4 Jan. 2010
  29. State Police Association of Massachusetts, "S.P.A.M. Endorses Brown for U. S. Senate" 16 Dec. 2009
  30. Politico, "Mitt Romney, Tim Pawlenty get behind Scott Brown" 11 Jan. 2010
  31. Worcester Telegram & Gazette, "Brown for Senate: Massachusetts needs balance in Washington" 10 Jan. 2010
  32. New York Times, "Bill Clinton Rallies With Coakley" 15 Jan. 2010
  33. Boston Globe, "Globe endorsement: Martha Coakley for Senate" 13 Jan. 2010
  34. Boston Phoenix, "Coakley for Senate" 13 Jan. 2010
  35. EMILY's List - Martha Coakley endorsement
  36. Newton TAB "Newton TAB Editorial: Vote Coakley for Senate" 13 Jan. 2010
  37. Providence Journal, "Editorial: Coakley for U.S. Senate" 13 Jan. 2010
  38. Suffolk University, "Poll: Coakley has Early Lead in U.S. Senate Race" 16 Sept. 2009
  39. Western New England College, "New Poll Finds Coakley Leads Field for U.S. Senate Nomination" 26 Oct. 2009
  40. Suffolk University - November 2009 Polling Data
  41. Boston Globe, "Senate poll: Coakley up 15 points" 10 Jan. 2010
  42. Rasmussen Reports, "2010 Massachusetts Senate: Coakley 50%, Brown 41%" 5 Jan. 2010
  43. Public Policy Polling, "Senate Race Competitive" 9 Jan. 2010
  44. Rasmussen Reports, "Massachusetts Senate Election: Coakley (D) 49%, Brown (R) 47%" 12 Jan. 2010
  45. Boston Herald, "Poll shocker: Scott Brown surges ahead in Senate race" 15 Jan. 2010
  46. Hot Air, "Suffolk poll: Brown 50, Coakley 46" 14 Jan. 2010
  47. Politico, "Suffolk University poll: Scott Brown up by 4" 14 Jan. 2010
  48. America Research Group, "Massachusetts US Senate Poll" 15 Jan. 2010
  49. Public Policy Polling, "Massachusetts Senate Poll" 17 Jan. 2010
  50. Public Policy Polling, "Massachusetts Race Still Close" 17 Jan. 2010
  51. Politico, "New poll: Martha Coakley 'in freefall'" 18 Jan. 2010
  52. Politico, "Massachusetts Senate Race Poll" 18 Jan. 2010
  53. National Review, "Obama Won't Show for Coakley" 11 Jan. 2010
  54. Boston Herald, "Scott Brown: Obama not invited to this party" 14 Jan. 2010
  55. Jake Tapper's Twitter account
  56. YouTube, "Coakley & Obama Hold Rally In Boston-- Can't Fill It Up" 17 Jan. 2010
  57. Washington Post, "Obama returns to Massachusetts with urgent Senate election plea" 18 Jan. 2010
  58. Newsbusters, "Pro-Lifer Heckles Obama At Coakley Event, Removed By Security" 17 Jan. 2010
  59. Boston Globe, "Brown narrows money gap in Mass. US Senate race" 8 Jan. 2010
  60. Boston Herald, "Scott Brown adds bucks to upset bid for Senate" 1 Jan. 2010
  61. Legal Insurrection, "Coakley $25 Tweet A Sign of Trouble" 1 Jan. 2010
  62. Hot Air, "He did it: Brown raises $500,000 in single day, now pushing for $750,000" 11 Jan. 2010
  63. Hot Air, "Amazing: Scott Brown about to raise $1 million for the day; Update: Done!" 11 Jan. 2010
  64. 64.0 64.1 Hotline On Call, "DSCC Launches First MA Ad Buy" 12 Jan. 2010
  65. Boston Globe, "Union plans major ad buy for Coakley" 12 Jan. 2010
  66. New York Times, "Massachusetts Politicians Fight Over a Kerry Victory" 25 June, 2004
  67. Boston Globe, "Romney veto overridden" 31 July, 2004
  68. Kathleen McKinley's Twitter account
  69. Mediaite, "Glenn Beck Destroys Scott Brown: “This One Could End With A Dead Intern”" 20 Jan. 2010
  70. Hot Air, "Mark Levin vs. Glenn Beck: Was Scott Brown’s joke about his daughters inappropriate?" 20 Jan. 2010
  71. Hot Air, "Audio: Glenn Beck apologizes to Scott Brown, sort of" 22 Jan. 2010
  72. The Boston Phoenix, "Boston Globe calls election for Martha Coakley?" 19 Jan. 2010
  73. National Review - Campaign Blog, "You're Not Supposed to Get an Absentee Ballot in a Box of Cracker Jacks" 19 Jan. 2010
  74. YouTube, "Why is This Woman Handing Out Absentee Ballots?" 19 Jan. 2010
  75. Election Journal, "Electioneering Across Boston" 19 Jan. 2010
  76. Massachusetts Secretary of State - Election Day Legal Summary
  77. National Review - The Corner, "Is the Coakley Campaign Laying the Groundwork for a Challenge?" 19 Jan. 2010
  78. Kansas City Star, "Mass. secretary of state dismissed vote problems" 19 Jan. 2010
  79. The Hill, "SEIU launches $214K radio buy for Coakley" 3 Dec. 2009
  80. My FOX Boston, "Union tells state workers to back Martha Coakley for Senate" 20 Nov. 2009
  81. My FOX Boston, "Scott Brown files ethics complaint in Senate race" 16 Dec. 2009
  82. Boston Herald, "Senator Paul Kirk angers critics with Martha Coakley nod" 8 Jan. 2010
  83. Jules Crittenden, "Liberal Lion’s Will Defied!" 8 Jan. 2010
  84. Legal Insurrection, "This Photo May Change The Election" 13 Jan. 2010
  85. 85.0 85.1 The Weekly Standard, "We Report, We Get Pushed" 12 Jan. 2010
  86. 86.0 86.1 Boston Herald, "Reporter roughed up outside Coakley fund-raiser" 13 Jan. 2010
  87. Legal Times, "Leading Democrats at BGR PR Leave for New Firm" 6 Aug. 2009
  88. White House Press Release -President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 11/18/09
  89. 89.0 89.1 Politico, "DSCC: Shoved reporter tape a GOP 'dirty trick'" 13 Jan. 2010
  90. The Plum Line, "Dem Staffer Apologizes For Shoving Weekly Standard Reporter" 13 Jan. 2010
  91. Boston Herald, "Coakley cites GOP ‘stalkers’ in D.C. dust-up" 13 Jan. 2010
  92. Ann Althouse, "Why Am I Avoiding ShoveGate?," January 13, 2010
  93. Boston Herald, "Scott Brown swearing-in would be stalled to pass health-care reform" 9 Jan. 2010
  94. The Weekly Standard, "Kirk Can't Vote After Tuesday" 16 Jan. 2010
  95. Politico, "On to Plan C" 19 Jan. 2010
  96. San Francisco Chronicle, "Brown demands to be sworn in earlier than planned" 3 Feb. 2010
  97. YouTube, "Scott Brown Sworn in As U.S. Senator" 4 Feb. 2010
  98. Boston Herald, "What can Scott Brown do for Dems? UPS ships off legal salvo" 16 Jan. 2010
  99. The Boston Herald, "Cocky Coakley" 31 Dec. 2009
  100. Hot Air, "DSCC uses World Trade Center image in anti-Brown ad; Update: Rudy erupts" 15 Jan. 2010
  101. Politico, "A Trade Center image in DSCC spot" 15 Jan. 2010
  102. Real Clear Politics, "MA-Sen: DSCC Runs Ad With Scott Brown And World Trade Center" 15 Jan. 2010
  103. National Review, "Giuliani on WTC Ad: 'Unthinkable, Offensive, and a Big Mistake'" 15 Jan. 2010
  104. Massachusetts Elections Division - 2010 Special Senate Election Results