Brown Wins Massachusetts Senate Seat, Potentially Upending Obama Agenda
By GREG HITT and PETER WALLSTEN
BOSTON—A little-known Republican shook up the balance of power in Washington by winning a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts, a result that imperils President Barack Obama's top legislative priorities and augurs trouble for his party in this year's elections.
With 75% of the vote counted, Republican Scott Brown was leading his opponent, Massachusetts' Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley 52.7% to 46.3%, according to the Associated Press, which declared Mr. Brown the winner.
The Brown victory forces the White House and congressional leaders to decide how—or whether—to salvage their long-sought health-care overhaul. Rushing the bill after losing Massachusetts carries political risks. So does letting it collapse.
House Democrats Tuesday opened the door to passing the Senate version of the legislation, which the president could then sign into law. The White House has floated that idea, but it will be a hard sell. The Senate bill contains abortion, immigration and tax provisions opposed by many House members.
Anticipating rough sledding for the bill, the S&P health-care sector stock index surged by more than 2% Tuesday, leading all other industry sectors, with managed-care stocks posting strong gains.
Inside the Park Plaza hotel in Boston, thousands packed the second-floor ballroom. Waiting for Mr. Brown to appear, the crowd chanted, "John Kerry's next, John Kerry's next." Later the chant went up, "Yes we did, Yes we did," a tweak at Mr. Obama's 2008 signature line.