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In the bitter contest in the 10th Congressional District, Democrat Bill Keating defeated Republican Jeff Perry, who looked to have the best chance to break the line of the exclusively Democratic delegation.
As the returns were starting to come in, the DJ at Keating's campaign party was playing a mix tape of celebratory rock and soul. It was loose music for what seemed a tight race where the most emotional supporters seemed on the side of Republican Perry. Down on the Cape, Perry was already on the stage and on television to pump up his party.
"And see if this wave that I'm feeling in here, this wave that's going to come across this country and return us to conservative values," Perry said.
Perry was winning the smaller towns: Chatham and Kingston, Bourne, Norwell, Yarmouth and his hometown of Sandwich.
“We did it the hard way and the old-fashioned way. We knocked on doors and we identified votes."Bill Keating, congressman-elect of the 10th district
The tony and Republican-tilting towns of Cohasset and Hingham came in for Keating, the Democrat. He took Falmouth, too, and Plymouth. It was tight all right. But Keating was confident in his field operation to get out the vote.
"We did it the hard way and the old-fashioned way. We knocked on doors and we identified votes," Keating said.
From Quincy, down to the South Shore, and out onto the Cape, the tide had seemed to be going out on Democrats. In the Senate race in January, Republican Scott Brown won the district by 20 percent. Democrats were disheartened.
"We knew what the message was. It was jobs. It was putting people back to work," Keating said. "But people were discouraged and they didn't think politics could do that. So we had to knock on their doors."
And while knocking on those doors, the Keating campaign also banged on the incident to which Perry, a former police sergeant, was connected, by the actions of a subordinate police officer in Wareham. Over in the Perry camp last night, supporter Judy Green was bitter.
"I'm really disappointed about the lies people believed about the girl situation," Green said.
"The girl situation," also known as the "strip search" — abbreviated how you might, it seemed to cast a shadow.
But another small town came in for Perry. Tight was the race until in came Quincy, the city, and the kingmaker. Keating won it by about 8,000 — more than 60 percent of the vote. The game's over, pronounced longtime Rep. Bill Delahunt, who's leaving the seat come January.
"Bill Keating will be the next member of Congress from the 10th Congressional District and he will join an all-Democratic congressional delegation," Delahunt said.
Cue the DJ, bring up the arena rock, and bring on the congressmen-elect.
"Keating, Keating, Keating," the crowd chanted at his victory party.
Keating declared victory before Perry conceded defeat — which he eventually did, on the other side of the Cape Cod Canal.
"We have talked about our shared concerns for the country. And we gave the people a real choice. And for that I will be ever grateful to you," Perry said.
Looking beyond the issue of "the strip search," Perry supporters like Tim Connolly marveled that they'd almost won.
"I think that the liberal and Democratic machines should watch the Tea Party and conservative types because that's where America is moving, and Jeff is part of that," Connolly said.
Back at Keating's party, outgoing Delahunt made his own declaration.
"What we are witnessing is the end of the so-called 'Scott Brown effect' here in Massachusetts," he said.
To the winner go both the spoils and the last word. Keating said his victory was about making the case against disillusionment.
"Do you think your efforts brought people out to vote, Democrats who might have sat it out otherwise?" I asked Keating.
"Absolutely," he said.
This program aired on November 3, 2010.
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