BOSTON — Scott Brown, a little-known Republican state senator, rode an old pickup truck and a growing sense of unease among independent voters to an extraordinary upset Tuesday night when he was elected to fill the Senate seat that was long held by Edward M. Kennedy in the overwhelmingly Democratic state of Massachusetts.
By a decisive margin, Mr. Brown defeated Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general, who had been considered a prohibitive favorite to win just over a month ago after she easily won the Democratic primary.
With all precincts counted, Mr. Brown had 52 percent of the vote to Ms. Coakley’s 47 percent.
“Tonight the independent voice of Massachusetts has spoken,” Mr. Brown told his cheering supporters in a victory speech, standing in front of a backdrop that said “The People’s Seat.”
The election left Democrats in Congress scrambling to salvage a bill overhauling the nation’s health care system, which the late Mr. Kennedy had called “the cause of my life.” Mr. Brown has vowed to oppose the bill, and once he takes office the Democrats will no longer control the 60 votes in the Senate needed to overcome filibusters.
There were immediate signs that the bill had become imperiled. House members indicated they would not quickly pass the bill the Senate approved last month.
And after the results were announced, one centrist Democratic senator, Jim Webb of Virginia, called on Senate leaders to suspend any votes on the Democrats’ health care legislation until Mr. Brown is sworn into office. The election, he said, was a referendum on both health care and the integrity of the government process.Continue reading the main story