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.”
Other volunteers for Coakley said the campaign called them in too late in the race to make a difference. But Democratic state party chairman John Walsh said the finger pointing doesn’t help anyone.
“Any analysis of this that does anything but celebrate Martha Coakley — her service and the efforts of this campaign — misses the boat,” Walsh said. “They worked tirelessly.”
One supporter said the results were “mind-boggling.” Another said Brown’s surge in the polls caught the campaign flat-footed. Elizabeth Schoetz, who worked on the campaign, started to cry when thinking about how devastated she is by the results.
“There’s a lot of disappointment,” she said. “I remember I was at the inauguration at this time last year and I felt so optimistic and hopeful, and I don’t think this is a good step for the commonwealth of Massachusetts,” she said.
Caroline Osterman agreed. She’s a retired social worker from Arlington who is concerned about how Brown will vote when he gets to Washington.
“I get really upset, because now he’s going to Washington and then what will happen with the health care, what will happen with Mr. Obama?” she wondered.
President Obama’s agenda on health care, the environment and banking reform could be in serious jeopardy now that the he has lost a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. That’s why Democrats say they feel a deeper loss than just the Senate seat.
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