WBUR

Either Way, The New Senator Will Be An Instant Star

Supporters for Republican Scott Brown position themselves in front of signs for Democratic candidate Martha Coakley on the street outside the venue of a debate on the campus of the University of Massachusetts, in Boston, on Monday, Jan. 11.  (AP)

Supporters for Republican Scott Brown position themselves in front of signs for Democratic candidate Martha Coakley in Boston on Monday. (AP)

BOSTON — No matter which of the major-party candidates wins the special general election for the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, the winner will be an instant star in their party.

So says Ralph Whitehead, a political analyst and professor of journalism at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, in an interview with WBUR’s Bob Oakes.

Attorney General Martha Coakley would be the 60th Democrat, helping the party hold its filibuster-proof majority. On the other side, state Sen. Scott Brown would be the 41st Republican, a crucial vote in slowing down the Democrats.

“If Brown were to win,” Whitehead said, “thus enabling the Republicans to stage successful filibusters in the Senate and to use the filibuster tactic to delay or possibly defeat the Democratic agenda in the Senate, he will be the toast of conservative Washington and conservative America. They may hold a parade for him.”

For Coakley, the heightened significance of the race has increased her potential star power, Whitehead said.

“If you had asked [about Coakley's possible prominence] two or three months ago, the answer would have been no,” Whitehead said. “However, because this race has now been put on the national map in such a vivid way, and because there is a greater expectation that Brown might win, I think she now could go to Washington as a person who beat back a challenge by Scott Brown and the national conservative movement, and that extends Democratic control of that seat at least for another two years.”

While different polls show varying degrees of competition in the race, Whitehead contends that the national focus has, in a way, helped both candidates.

“The great windfall that has come to Scott Brown as people across the country see him as the 41st vote against the Democratic agenda, in particular, and health care reform, in general — as much as it’s helping to energize the Brown campaign, it is also energizing the Coakley campaign,” Whitehead said. “If Scott Brown is the 41st vote for the Republicans, that makes Martha Coakley the 60th vote for the Democrats. The national significance of this race is now, for Scott Brown, a double-edged sword.”

Should Brown become the state’s first Republican senator since 1979, Whitehead foresees political pressures that could derail the conservative’s chances in 2012.

“A special election for a single office on what’s probably a cold day in January will draw a relatively small turnout,” Whitehead explained. “He will really have to strike a very delicate balance. If he were to win, he would become a national figure overnight and there would be pressure on him nationally from conservatives to be quite conservative and quite Republican to bog down the Democratic agenda.”

“That’s what they’re going to want him to do,” Whitehead continued. “If he plays that role, I think it will be harder, rather than easier, for him to win reelection in two years.”

But again, Whitehead stressed, whatever the election outcome, either Coakley or Brown would have much more influence than normal in Washington.

“The great advantage that Martha Coakley has at this point is that the stronger Scott Brown appears to be, the more likely it is that Democrats who support Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress and support health care reform will pick Coakley up and put her on their shoulders and carry her across the finish line,” Whitehead said. “But certainly we have to accept the conventional wisdom that if Scott Brown did win this election, it would be an event of enormous national significance and national consequence.”


Click “Listen Now” above to hear the interview with Ralph Whitehead.

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  • http://GOGETEMSCOTT DENNIS L. SEYMOUR

    MY prayers are for Scott to win and help can the Health Care,Engery,and Cap&Trade Bills now…Ok voters get out a record vote and put the man in office…D. Seymour

  • http://GOGETEMSCOTT DENNIS L. SEYMOUR

    GO GET EM SCOTT BROWN!!!

  • Anton

    Go Coakley! Keep the Massachusetts Democratic juggernaut STRONG!

  • Adam

    Coakley will be just another drone for Harry Reid and the Democratic Party. She doesn’t represent the people of Massachusetts. She represents those who paid for her campaign expenses: the unions, the DNC etc. She is THE candidate of special interests.

  • KernelPanic

    Supporters of Scott Brown include: Sean Hannity , Dick Morris, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck,Sarah Palin, Ann Coukter and Rupert Murdoch.If these are your heroes then you have your candidate.

  • Frank Patriot

    I would suggest that every able-bodied man, woman and child show up to support Scott Brown at the Coakley event. I would bring in every Patriot from across the state to let Obama know that we are taking back OUR country. It is like sending out a call for the Minutemen to meet on the village greens. The time has come America. What better way to show the world the New American Revolution. Will will take back our country from the Liberals and let it begin where it began over 200 years ago! When the media comes to cover Clinton the Patriots of this great land will be there to greet him. Let’s see the media spin it then! Cut and paste this comment to every comment section in the Boston Globe. E-mail it to other towns. Send it to your friends. Send it to the Tea Baggers as Obama, Pelosi and Reed refer to true Patriots. Show them how the Patriots are going to move this country in the other direction and let it be a message to the world that there is a whole new United States of America being born!

    So through the night rode Paul Revere;
    And so through the night went his cry of alarm
    To every Middlesex village and farm,—
    A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
    A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
    And a word that shall echo for evermore!
    For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
    Through all our history, to the last,
    In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
    The people will waken and listen to hear
    The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
    And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

    CUT AND PASTE AND GET THE WORD OUT!

  • Joe Real American

    Frank, go take an Ex-Lax. You really need it.

  • Robert Enders

    Sadly, most of Oakes’s political analysts played right into GOP hands when they started dissecting Coakley’s campaign at the first sign that she wasn’t winning “Kennedy’s seat” in a landslide. Pretty soon it became common pundit wisdom that she wasn’t a strong candidate, and that sows doubts about her competence among voters.
    Coakley’s a terrific candidate, who’ll make an excellent Senator. She’s smart, charming, and realistic. Brown will be just one more foot soldier for the Republican Senatorial leadership to make sure that government can’t do anything for ordinary people.
    If political analysts stopped calling horse-races and worked to describe the true political stakes, how bills affect ordinary people’s lives, how lobbyists pay for favorable riders that corrupt the popular interest, people would have confidence that they could go to the ballot box and make the system work. Instead, folks are left in the dark, frustrated and disheartened.

  • Debbie

    I don’t totally agree with Whitehead. They will be instant stars but utimately one time wonders…

    Let’s say that either gets elected, then what? Which of the two candidates will be able to do more for Mass. after they are elected and after healthcare does or does not pass. Both will be Junior Senators. Not a lot of power there.

    Brown by the GOP’s own admission is being supported so he can be the 41st person for fillibuster. That means he will vote as told. He will be used to vote in block.

    Coakley is being courted for her vote. She would enjoy sitting on committees that Brown can only dream about. All because of her politcal backing. So Mass might get thrown a bone or two.

    So for me I would rather have something than get nothing.

  • Aine

    To the People of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
    In the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the land where the American Revolution began, the land of Paul Revere and John Hancock, the people of Massachusetts were moved to rise up against the tide of British oppression by fighting against our oppressors when unfair taxes were being imposed upon the American people in the 1700’s.

    Today, over two hundred years later, higher taxes and a health care bill that people of this great land have expressed that they do not want are being forced upon us. Today, the great people of Massachusetts, the Great Commonwealth, can rise up and make a stand and change the course of American history once again as our Founding Fathers did in the 1700’s.

    If enough of us vote for Scott Brown we can send this great man to Washington D.C. to vote against a health care bill; a health care bill which will end up bankrupting this great nation of ours.

    Right now, we have the best health care system in the entire world. We need to keep the quality of our current health care system by working harder to come up with a better health care reform package. The current health care reform bill is not the best we can do. We can do better and we should not have to settle for something we do not really want. We want health care reform; not health care mediocrity. We need to send Scott Brown as our Senator from Massachusetts to Washington to tell the Washington bureaucrats to redraft the health care bill and start over again to get a fairer more cost effective, economically sound health care bill passed. Vote for Scott Brown and change the course of American history for the good. Aine Mitchell

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