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Do Not Ask What Good We Do
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The Path to Prosperity
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Ten Letters
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about V.P. Joe Biden (2010)
No Apology
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Young Guns
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The Path to Prosperity
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Promises to Keep
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The Audacity of Hope
by Pres. Barack Obama (2006)
Turnaround
by Gov. Mitt Romney (2004)
Dreams from My Father
by Pres. Barack Obama (1996)

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2010 Massachusetts Senate Debate among Martha Coakley (Democrat); Scott Brown (Republican); and Joe L. Kennedy (Libertarian)


    Click on a participant to pop-up their full list of quotations
    from 2010 MA Senate Debate (number of quotes indicated):
  • Joe L. Kennedy (1)
  • Martha Coakley (16)
  • Scott Brown (20)
    OR click on an issue category below for a subset.
Normally, Massachusetts has two safe Democratic Senate seats. But with a recession in full swing, and voters anxious for change, 2009-2010 is not a normal year. Republican State Senator Scott Brown has surged in the polls as the Jan. 19 special election date approaches, and even her own internal polls show Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley slightly behind.

The stakes in this race are high because it occurs just as the final votes on healthcare reform approach. Brown has described himself as "the 41st vote" to block the current filibuster-proof Democratic majority, and Coakley has described herself as "the 60th vote" to ensure passage of healthcare reform. The special election is viewed nationwide partly as a referendum o healthcare and partly as a bellwether of the November 2010 general election. Hence Massachusetts voters have been flooded in the final weeks of the campaign withj TV and radio commercials, plus emails and robo-calls and live appearances from everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Barack Obama.

As a Massachusetts voter, I see Brown as having succeeded at capturing the energy of a "change candidate" and gaining momentum at the right time to win the election. As a political activist, I dream of doing exactly that in every election. Even if Brown loses, the Republican Party can justifiably claim victory in having run a serious conservative campaign in one of the nation's most liberal states. Republicans will use this race to imply, appropriately, that the electorate nationwide feels that on healthcare reform they are not being listened to. And the Republicans will attempt to parlay this race to a Congressional victory in November 2010.

However, it is still very likely that the Democrats will eke out an electoral victory, and get the 60th vote in the Senate, for now. I make this prediction based on my own experience with the "political machine" of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and in particular, the "Menino Machine" run by Boston's Mayor Tom Menino. Menino's machine is formidable -- it has cost myself and my progressive colleagues election after election, even when we were ahead in the polls, and even when we seemed to have won on Election Day itself. Menino turns out voters by the thousands, and they are mostly voters who don't show up in polls -- new Russian-speaking immigrants in Brighton, for example, who are incapable of responding to pollsters questions but who are very capable of voting. Boston itself accounts for about 10% of the Massachusetts electorate, and Menino controls a very large majority of that vote. And of course, the rest of the state has other political machines too, ranging from other big-city mayors to unions who routinely produce election-day workers and voters, almost all on the Democratic side.

The mantra for special elections is that they are determined by "GOTV", or Get-Out-The-Vote efforts. That is especially true for elections during winter, and even more so in bad weather, which is likely in mid-January in Massachusetts. The Democratic machine is overwhelmingly stronger at GOTV than anything Scott Brown can put together. Hence even though the polls show Brown ahead by 1% to 5%, that's really not enough to win.

While we predict a narrow Coakley victory, we will make a contingent prediction also, in case Brown wins. If Brown should surge in the final days to a 10% lead in the polls, and hence eke out a narrow victory himself by overcoming the Democratic machine advantage, we predict that Brown will not be seated in the Senate until after the healthcare vote is concluded. The Coleman-Franken race demonstrated that holding up election certification is an easy task for clever lawyers, especially when the stakes are high (the stakes are the same for Brown-Coakley as for Franken-Coleman: the 60th seat in the Senate majority!). All of the Massachusetts statewide certifying entities -- and many of the local entities -- are run by Democrats -- and they are well aware of the issues in the U.S. Senate without being told what to do. If Brown wins, count on a legal challenge that will delay his being seated for a week or two, or however long it takes until Obama signs the healthcare reform bill.

-- Jesse Gordon, editor-in-chief, OnTheIssues.org, Jan. 17, 2010
 OnTheIssues.org excerpts:  (click on issues for details)
Abortion
    Martha Coakley: AdWatch: Brown denied contraception to rape victims.
    Scott Brown: 2005: Conscience-based opt out of post-rape contraception.
    Scott Brown: Provide info about emergency contraception to rape victims.
    Scott Brown: Support legalized abortion, but not partial-birth abortion.
    Martha Coakley: Helped minors get court orders without parental consent.
    Martha Coakley: Partial-birth ban needs exceptions for maternal health.
    Scott Brown: Supported by right-to-life groups for stem cell stance.
    Scott Brown: Authored bill for 24-hour waiting period for abortion.
Budget & Economy
    Scott Brown: AdWatch: $2 trillion spending spree puts us deeper in debt.
    Scott Brown: No new regulation of the financial markets.
Crime
    Martha Coakley: Lobbied hard to keep Gerald Amirault in prison.
    Martha Coakley: Opposes death penalty, but federal death penalty ok.
Energy & Oil
    Scott Brown: Cap-and-trade is a national energy tax.
    Martha Coakley: Supports national cap-and-trade system, plus renewables.
    Scott Brown: Opposes cap-and-trade system, but renewables OK.
Families & Children
    Martha Coakley: Mandatory prosecution of restraining order violations.
    Scott Brown: Presumption of shared parenting after divorce.
Health Care
    Martha Coakley: System is broken and needs to be fixed now.
    Scott Brown: 41st vote against Obama's healthcare plan.
Homeland Security
    Martha Coakley: Protect due process in any plan to keep America safe.
    Scott Brown: Supports enhanced interrogation techniques.
    Scott Brown: No constitutional rights for enemy combatants.
Jobs
    Scott Brown: AdWatch: I agree with JFK that cutting taxes creates jobs.
Principles & Values
    Scott Brown: $1.3 million in 24 hours via Internet "Money Bomb" appeal.
Social Security
    Joe L. Kennedy: Ready to cut Social Security & other entitlements.
Tax Reform
    Martha Coakley: Bush tax cuts favor wealthy Americans.
    Scott Brown: Maintain Bush tax cuts after 2010.
    Martha Coakley: AdWatch: Get taxes up from more employment, not tax increase.
    Scott Brown: 15 percent across the board tax cut.
    Martha Coakley: Extend Bush tax cuts for the lowest four tax brackets.
    Martha Coakley: Some taxes are investments like for infrastructure & schools.
    Scott Brown: Permanently eliminate the estate tax.
Technology
    Martha Coakley: Make federal research-and-development tax credit permanent.
War & Peace
    Martha Coakley: Bring troops home from Afghanistan.
    Scott Brown: Supports 30,000 more troops in Afghanistan.
    Martha Coakley: Focus efforts where terrorists are, not Afghanistan.
    Scott Brown: Terrorists are not gone from Afghanistan.


The above quotations are from 2010 Massachusetts Senate Debate among Martha Coakley (Democrat); Scott Brown (Republican); and Joe L. Kennedy (Libertarian).

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