Mass. Special Election Could Shape Fate Of Health Reform
Los Angeles Times: "For Democrats, it's a nightmarish scenario: A Republican appears to be within striking distance of capturing the Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy." Some polls now show that Republican state Sen. Scott Brown is gaining on Attorney General Martha Coakley, his Democratic rival, in the days before the special election, which is scheduled for Tuesday. For Democrats, keeping Kennedy's seat on their side of the aisle is a point of pride. But a "loss would deprive Senate Democrats of their 60-vote supermajority and hand Republicans the ability to filibuster legislation. Brown has been telling voters that he would be the '41st vote' against the massive healthcare overhaul now before Congress, giving Republicans enough muscle to block it" (Oliphant, 1/14).
The Associated Press/The Washington Post: Meanwhile, "Massachusetts Democrats and their allies have rolled out a series of negative TV ads over a 48-hour period, a striking departure from what has been a polite Senate campaign as polls show the contest tightening." The GOP has supported Brown, but "but are not pouring TV money into the race, raising questions about whether they really think Brown can win or whether they are afraid of reminding voters that he is a Republican." Conservative interest groups, however, have helped Brown answer Coakley's attacks (1/14).
The Boston Globe: Coakley's ad campaign also includes a commercial President Obama cut in support of her campaign - though it's not negative. The White House has said that there is no trip to Massachusetts on the president's schedule, however. A Brown ad, "Momentum," is also available on the Globe's site (Viser, 12/14).
NBC News: In addition, "Edward Kennedy's widow, Vicki Kennedy, has made a TV commercial championing the Democratic candidate running to fill his Senate seat... The last-minute appeals on Coakley's behalf underscore Democratic worries about losing the race" (Murray, 12/14).
USA Today: "Outside groups are pouring millions of dollars into Massachusetts' Senate race to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, highlighting a contest that could determine the fate of national health care legislation," reports. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Service Employees International Union are facing off in television ads. The conservative American Future Fund has planned ads against Coakley, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee plans adds against Brown (Fritze, 1/14).
CNN: "Political analyst David Gergen, who moderated a debate between Brown and Coakley Monday night, said part of the closeness of the race is tied to the health care reform bill in Congress." Gergen said, "And his campaign has gotten a lot of traction suddenly, unexpectedly in the last few weeks by exactly that campaign pledge: 'I will send this bill back'" (Hornick, 1/13).
FOX News: "Democrat Martha Coakley and her supporters warned at a fundraiser in Washington, D.C., Tuesday night that the fate of health care reform and the Democratic Party's majority in Congress all hinge on the outcome of her bid for Senate in Massachusetts next week, according to accounts of the closed-door affair" (1/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.