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Massachusetts voters, are you paying atttention?
It looks like the fix is in on national health-care reform – and it all may unfold on Beacon Hill.
At a business forum in Boston today, interim Sen. Paul Kirk predicted that Congress would pass a health-care reform bill this month.
“We want to get this resolved before President Obama’s State of the Union address in early to mid-February,” Kirk told reporters at a Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce breakfast.
The longtime aide and confidant of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who was handpicked by Gov. Deval Patrick after a controversial legal change to hold Kennedy’s seat, vowed to vote for the bill even if Republican state Sen. Scott Brown, who opposes the health-care reform legislation, prevails in a Jan. 19 special election.
Few have considered the Jan. 19 election as key to the fate of national health-care reform because both Kirk and front-runner state Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee, have vowed to uphold Kennedy’s legacy and support health-care reform.
But if Brown wins, the entire national health-care reform debate may hinge on when he takes over as senator. Brown has vowed to be the crucial 41st vote in the Senate that would block the bill.
The U.S. Senate ultimately will schedule the swearing-in of Kirk’s successor, but not until the state certifies the election.
Today, a spokesman for Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin, who is overseeing the election but did not respond to a call seeking comment, said certification of the Jan. 19 election by the Governor’s Council would take a while.
“Because it’s a federal election,” spokesman Brian McNiff said. “We’d have to wait 10 days for absentee and military ballots to come in.”
Another source told the Herald that Galvin’s office has said the election won’t be certified until Feb. 20 – well after the president’s address.
Since the U.S. Senate doesn’t meet again in formal session until Jan. 20, Bay State voters will have made their decision before a vote on health-care reform could be held. But Kirk and Galvin’s office said today a victorious Brown would be left in limbo.
In contrast, Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell) was sworn in at the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 18, 2007, just two days after winning a special election to replace Martin Meehan. In that case, Tsongas made it to Capitol Hill in time to override a presidential veto of the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.
Considering how Massachusetts Dems in 2004 pushed for and got their wish to have the voters be able to decide who wins Senate vacancies – because they worried then-Governor Mitt Romney, a Republican, would appoint another Republican in the event that John Kerry got elected President – only to reverse course last year in the aftermath of Ted Kennedy’s death (after his request the previous month that they do so, of course) to “ensure” a Democrat got his seat so that Democrat would vote in favor of healthcare “reform,” that they would deliberately delay an official declaration of the winner in this special election … in the event that it’s Scott Brown … should shock no one. These people have shown a shameless contempt for election law in the past, shaping it legislatively in ways that advance liberal agendas as the expense of letting the voters decide.
While it’s true that Massachusetts is a blue state, it’s not unheard of for them to elect Republicans to lead them – Mitt Romney obviously is the first to come to mind. But even though MA is typically reliably blue, that’s not really the point, as angry Harvard Law School grad Bill Jacobson explains:
This scheme does not depend on the usual delay, for example, where there is a slight margin of victory in the hundreds of votes out of millions cast, where a recount and ballot challenges take time. The Democratic scheme will delay Brown’s certification even if Brown is the clear winner.
Voters need to call the Democrats’ bluff. The deliberate delay of Brown’s certification in order to push through the health care bill will cause a political explosion unlike anything we have seen before.
There are certain red lines which no one has crossed before. And refusing to seat a duly elected Senator, for the sole purpose of excluding that Senator from voting on a particular piece of legislation, crosses that line.
Democrats are threatening to break the democratic links which bind us as a nation. The electoral outrage at such a tactic will be generational, and the Democratic leadership in Washington knows it.
Massachusetts Republican DaTechGuy, who doesn’t give Brown much of a chance to win anyway, elaborates on Jacobson’s point:
I understand the tactic here is to suppress the Brown vote, making the case that it doesn’t matter if you turn out it won’t stop obamacare but I don’t know if state democrats understand exactly what they are doing here.
Let’s say that Brown actually wins and they pull this stunt. There is going to be a sense among the voters of the state that they have been cheated. Except among the hard core win at any cost left even democrats in this Boston Red Sox/sports crazy state would be outraged.
It would be the equivalent of the sneak attack on pearl harbor to the state in terms of effect, it would cause rage. Even worse for elected democrats, it would cause rage in JANUARY of an election year and motivate people to run on the local, state and even federal level with plenty of time to get on ballots and run.
It would motivate them during an election when the president and congress is at its lowest level of popularity, where Governor Patrick (Obama lite) is so unpopular that it will take a major miracle for him to win.
Democrats in this state are soft, they rarely get competition, what do you think will happen if they get real challengers all over the state with an electorate that is angry and motivated? If there was ever a chance for this state to be flipped on a more permanent basis that would be it.
Are State democrats really that stupid? Do they really understand what they might be doing? We know the national party doesn’t give a damn what happens in Massachusetts, it is a state that is losing population and influence it doesn’t matter in the short run. They will sell state democrats in a seconds and there is no Ted Kennedy who knows where the bodies are buried nationally to protect the state from this.
Hmmm – I wonder if the state’s mostly left-wing voters really would rebel against this? Considering the Massachusetts election strongarming that has happened in the past, without much fanfare – as far as I know, I’m skeptical there’d be an uprising over this, esp. if the vote is close.
That said, as far as Brown’s chances of winning, they might not be as slim as you think they are, according to Public Policy Polling:
-At this point a plurality of those planning to turn out oppose the health care bill. The massive enthusiasm gap we saw in Virginia is playing itself out in Massachusetts as well. Republican voters are fired up and they’re going to turn out. Martha Coakley needs to have a coherent message up on the air over the last ten days that her election is critical to health care passing and Ted Kennedy’s legacy- right now Democrats in the state are not feeling a sense of urgency.
-Scott Brown’s favorables are up around 60%, a product of his having had the airwaves to himself for the last week. By comparison Bob McDonnell’s were at 55% right before his election and Chris Christie’s were only at 43%. Coakley’s campaign or outside groups need to tie Brown’s image to national Republicans and knock him down a notch over the final week of the campaign.
This has become a losable race for Democrats- but it could also be easily winnable if Coakley gets her act together for the last week of the campaign. Complacency is the Democrats’ biggest enemy at this point and something that needs to be overcome to avoid a potential disaster.
The Cook Political Report also recently moved this race from the “Solid Democratic” column to the “Leans Democratic” column:
At this point, we suspect that the race has indeed closed somewhat and that the result will probably be closer than it ought to be, but we continue to believe that [Republican Scott] Brown has a very uphill struggle in his quest to pull off a Massachusetts Miracle. At the same time, we have a well-earned appreciation for how unpredictable special elections can be even in states or congressional districts that sit solidly in one party’s camp or the other. For that reason, and an abundance of caution, we are moving it from the Solid Democratic column to the Lean Democratic column.
Time is running out. The election is just a week and a half away. Click here to find out more about Scott Brown, and if you like what you see, spare some change, please. I don’t know much about Brown and in fact he could be one of those “moderate” northern Republicans who irritate the heck out of conservatives, but he has vowed to vote against ObamaCare, and that’s enough for me. Not only that, but his election would send shockwaves throughout the country in an election year that is already shaping up to be tougher than anticipated last year for Obama’s Democrats. Can Brown pull it off? Let’s hope and pray that he can.
Stay tuned …