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Coakley Loss Catches Democrats ‘Flat-Footed’

Martha Coakley concedes after losing the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in Boston on Tuesday. (AP)

Martha Coakley concedes in Boston on Tuesday after losing the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. (AP)

BOSTON — Martha Coakley returns full-time Wednesday to her job as state attorney general. Coakley did not win the election that many Democrats believed would be an easy victory. Instead, Republican Scott Brown won 52 percent of the vote to Coakley’s 47 percent.

Supporters were already asking what happened at Coakley headquarters Tuesday night. They were disappointed, frustrated and angry about the loss. Few blamed Coakley herself, but many said they thought the campaign wasn’t proactive and took a win for granted. Coakley said she approached the race with fierce determination.

“We never lost our focus or our determination,” Coakley said in her concession speech. “And you never demonstrated an ounce of discouragement or complacency as far as I’m concerned in this campaign. I know how hard we worked.”

Coakley said she will be brutally honest about her own performance.

“I am heartbroken at the result, and I know that you are also,” she told the crowd at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston’s Back Bay. “But I know that you will get up together tomorrow and continue this fight. Even with this result tonight, because there will be plenty of Wednesday morning quarterbacking about what happened, about what went right and what went wrong.”

The quarterbacking started Tuesday night. Many people blamed her loss on complacency among Democrats who assumed the seat was safe.

Volunteer Doug Thatcher said he was one of those Democrats. “I’m part of this phenomenon,” he said.

“I didn’t pay that much attention to it and I assumed there was no trouble there. And toward the end I realized how insidious Brown’s insurgence was. So I got out at the end and tried to do what I could.”

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