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Warren defeats Brown in Massachusetts to take Senate seat back for Dems

 

Democrat Elizabeth Warren ousted Republican incumbent Sen. Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate election Tuesday night, Fox News projects, ending one of the most dramatic races of the 2012 cycle.

“This victory belongs to you. You did this,” Warren told her supporters Tuesday night in a speech echoing familiar stump speeches from her campaign.

The win in Massachusetts added to a string of Senate victories for the Democrats, including Rep. Chris Murphy winning an open seat in Connecticut over wrestling magnate Republican Linda McMahon; Democrat Joe Donnelly beating Republican Richard Mourdock in Indiana; and Rep. Tammy Baldwin beating Republican Tommy Thompson for the open Senate seat in Wisconsin.

Democrats had a 53-47 Senate majority going into the election.

"Tonight is a great night for the people of Massachusetts and for the middle class across the country," Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said in a written statement.

The Massachusetts campaign was marked by many bitter moments and constant attacks, not the least of which were Brown’s accusations that Warren had erroneously claimed she was part Cherokee to take advantage of racial preferences during her academic career.

A professor at Harvard Law School, Warren had been touted as part of the prestigious school’s diversity hiring during the 1990s. Throughout the last several weeks, Warren was forced to answer calls to prove this Native American heritage, which had even been questioned by the Cherokee tribes at one point.

In the end, the affair had proven to be a big distraction to both campaigns, and not the major boost Brown had hoped for.

The mudslinging had prompted both candidates at one point to renounce the negative advertising launched by outside groups on their behalf. They asked the groups to stop, and pledged that if any ran attack ads anyway the candidate benefiting would dip into campaign funds to make a donation to a charity of their opponents’ choice. This was tested, and Brown ended up donating some $37,000 as a result.

But even a major push from national Republican and conservative groups could not push Brown over the finish line.

Defying the odds and campaigning around the state in a pickup truck as the “everyman,” Brown drew national attention as he captured the seat left open by the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2010. He quickly became an icon in the party, seen as a rising star with broad appeal.

But since his election, Brown has settled into the Senate as a more moderate figure, much like his New England counterpart, Sen. Olympia Snow, R-Maine, who retired this year out of disgust with the partisanship she said became untenable on Capitol Hill.

Brown's move to the center did not help enough, it seems, as Harvard professor-turned consumer advocate Warren was able to lock him into a tight, high-pitched contest, considered a toss-up for months.

For her part, Warren was already used to controversy and partisan politics: After helping to design the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under the Obama administration, she was blocked from heading it permanently by Republicans who believed she was too biased against business.

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