By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Even with light snow falling over much of Massachusetts today, motivated voters are thronging to the polls to decide the fate of a Senate seat that could be a game changer in the national health care debate.
The Associated Press (AP) is reporting a large turnout of voters at precincts throughout the state as citizens line up to cast their vote in one of the most anticipated special elections in recent memory. Democrat Martha Coakley, who was ahead by 30 points less than a month ago, is facing a serious challenge from GOP candidate Scott Brown in a race for the senate seat left vacant by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
If Brown wins, he would not only be the first republican to fill the seat since 1972, but he would also be the “41st vote” that breaks the Democrat’s filibuster-proof super majority in the Senate. Opponents of the health care reform bill being developed behind closed doors in Congress say his vote could effectively kill the bill.
With such high stakes, the race has attracted national attention and is motivating a larger than usual number of voters to brave the cold and head to the polls. The AP is reporting that in one polling place in a suburb of Boston, a line of cars stretched for nearly a half-mile waiting to get into the parking lot of a high school gymnasium to vote. Some drivers turned around in exasperation.
Shortly after voting early Tuesday morning, Martha Coakley said she was confident that she would win the race. ” . . .We’re paying attention to the ground game,” she said. “Every game has its own dynamics. … We’ll know tonight what the results are.”
Meanwhile, Scott Brown drove himself to the polls in his hometown of Wrentham in his signature green pickup truck with the famous odometer reading over 200,000 miles that has come to symbolize his blue collar campaign style.
He played down the importance of becoming the 41st Republican vote, telling reporters, “It would make everybody the 41st senator, and it would bring fairness and discussion back to the equation.”
He also expressed his hope that if he wins the election tonight, that the state’s Democratic officials would “do the right thing and certify me as quickly as possible.”
Polls close tonight at 8:00 p.m.
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