Coakley Loses; Brown Is Kennedy's HeirUpdated Jan. 19, 2010, at 9:29 p.m.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts made history today, just not the kind of history expected just a few short months ago.
The major news networks are calling the special Senate election race for Scott Brown, making him the first Republican senator from the Bay State in 30 years.
Just a month ago, the front-runner was Attorney General Martha Coakley, who was expected to become the state's first woman senator. But Coakley was soundly beaten on Tuesday; Brown, a state senator from Wrentham took the lead from the first reporting precincts and never lost it.
With 89 percent reporting, Brown was declared the winner with 52 percent of the vote to Coakley's 47. Libertarian Joseph L. Kennedy took 1 percent.
The Berkshires stood by their native daughter, who stressed her links to Western Mass. and was even sworn in as the state's first attorney general in North Adams, where she was raised.
Her hometown reported heavy voting, with 74 percent of voters casting ballots for Coakley. Other towns around the county followed suit, according to results tabulated by The Associated Press. Results for Pittsfield had not yet been posted.
Original posting at 7:38 p.m. below
Senate Election Turnout High in North Adams
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — If you're planning to vote, go now. The polls close in minutes for the special election for U.S. Senate.
In North Adams, childhood home of Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, voting stations had been busy throughout the day. Some 10 percent of the city's 9,000-odd registered voters had cast ballots by midmorning; shortly before 5 p.m., more than 1,600 votes had been registered in Wards 1, 3 and 5 at St. Elizabeth's Parish Center.
City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau was surprised at the turnout, which included more than 700 in Ward 4. "I didn't expect this big a turnout but I think there's been a lot more interest in the race since about Thursday."
It was last week that Coakley's easy walk to the Capitol suddenly became a tightrope act. State Sen. Scott Brown was surging in the polls and the attorney general made a series of misteps that turned the national eye on the race.
With the election a tossup, the result's been a blizzard of calls throughout the state as both sides tracked down every last vote.
"If I vote, will they finally stop calling?" said one exasperated voter as she checked in St. Elizabeth's. Poll workers reported four of five calls each, from Presidens Obama and Clinton to Vice President Biden.
The heavy turnout in North Adams for a special election likely points to a Coakley win here. But does the state want the city's native daughter?
Within a few minutes after 8 p.m., Massachusetts will know what kind of history it made today: electing the state's first woman senator or the first Republican senator in 30 years. The last GOP senator was Edward Brooke.