Crisis for Obama as Republicans take Massachusetts

Shock victory in Ted Kennedy's old seat could end hopes of healthcare reform

The Republicans have pulled off a shock victory by winning the Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by the Democrat Ted Kennedy's death.

The result, in what is usually one of the safest Democratic seats in the country, is a severe blow to Barack Obama's presidency and throws into doubt the future of his health-care reform plan. The defeat robs the Democrats of the 60-seat "super-majority" that allows them to overcome Republican filibusters in the 100-member US Senate.

The Republican candidate, Scott Brown, beat Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, who had expected to inherit the seat, by 52 per cent to 47 per cent. In his victory speech he promised to use his Senate vote to defeat the Democrats' health-care reform.

He said: "One thing is clear: voters do not want the trillion-dollar health-care bill that is being forced on the American people. This bill is not being debated openly and fairly. It will raise taxes, hurt Medicare, destroy jobs, and run our nation deeper into debt.

"In health care, we need to start fresh, work together, and do the job right."


Follow the New Statesman team on Twitter