Senate Race Sees Scott Brown Pull Close in Massachusetts, Impacts Health Care

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 5, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Senate Race Sees Scott Brown Pull Close in Massachusetts, Impacts Health Care

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 5
, 2010

Washington, DC ( — Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown has pulled within a 10 percentage point lead in the special election in Massachusetts to replace the late pro-abortion Sen. Ted Kennedy. The race could have a dramatic effect if brown pulls out the upset because it could impact the health care debate.

Brown faces pro-abortion Democrat Martha Coakley who already has the endorsement of Emily’s List, a top pro-abortion organization.

But Brown is getting backing from those who oppose the health care bill and want him to be elected to become the 41st vote against it — supporting the Republican filibuster that has been unable to stop the bill so far because all 60 Democrats backed the pro-abortion bill.

Brown and Coakley clashed in their first debate on Tuesday that featured a contentious time on abortion.

Coakley spent time explaining how she would support a final federal health care overhaul bill that contains some abortion funding limits even though she already promised to vote for a pro-abortion health care bill.

She talked about how she supports the Nelson-Reid abortion deal in the Senate which allows states to stop abortion funding but also allows them to force taxpayers to fund abortions — the portion that gets backing from the candidate.

Brown accused Coakley of planning to be an abortion “crusader" if she is elected and pointed out her duplicity.

“Being supported by EMILY’s List, she will go down there as a social crusader and be obligated to file the bills that will have full (partial-birth) abortions and also lower the age of consent and also provide the federal funding,” Brown said.

The biggest news in the race today came via a new Rasmussen Reports poll showing Coakley holds just a nine-point lead over her Republican rival.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of likely voters in the state finds Coakley ahead of Brown 50% to 41%. One percent (1%) prefer some other candidate, and seven percent (7%) are undecided.

Both candidates get better than 70% of the vote from members of their respective parties, but Brown leads 65% to 21% among voters not affiliated with either of the major parties.

Special elections are typically decided by who shows up to vote and it is clear from the data that Brown’s supporters are more enthusiastic. In fact, among those who are absolutely certain they will vote, Brown pulls to within two points of Coakley.

"The special Senate election will be held on January 19 and special elections typically feature low turnout. That’s one reason the race appears to be a bit closer than might typically be expected for a Senate race in Massachusetts," the pollster said.

The health care issue is expected to play a big role in the debate and Massachusetts voters hold modestly favorable attitudes about the proposed legislation. In the Bay State, 53% favor the plan working its way through Congress and 45% oppose it

However, as is the case nationally, those who feel strongly about the bill are more likely to be opposed. The overall figures include 36% who Strongly Oppose the plan while 27% Strongly Favor it.

Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, has faced some questions about his abortion stance form pro-life advocates but he picked up the support of the Massachusetts Citizens for Life based on pro-life positions on many issues — not as a full-fledged pro-life candidate but as the better of the two candidates.

“We’re behind him,’’ said John Rowe, chairman of the group’s federal political action committee. “The pro-life vote is very important at this point. It can make a big difference.’’

The group did not support Brown in 2004 when he expressed support for Roe v. Wade but Rowe has said he believes that Brown’s position has evolved.

“We always welcome people coming over to our side,’’ he said.

“While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America,’’ he told the Globe newspaper.

Rowe emailed earlier to say that he is seeing movement in Brown’s direction.

"People are terribly upset about health care and asking what to do. Here is the very exciting part. We in Massachusetts can actually save the whole country from this awful health care. Our PAC has been supporting Scott Brown because he will be a pro-life vote in the Senate," he said.

"Scott Brown will also vote against the health care bill. After the compromise bill comes out of conference, it must be approved again by each house. Brown will vote against the bill. That means there will not be 60 votes in the Senate. That means the bill will be defeated," he continued.

That’s a lofty goal but Rowe is encouraging pro-life advocates in Massachusetts to get involved in the special election.

"Can we do it? We certainly can! Turn-out will be very small," he said — adding that the pro-life movement could change the dynamics of the race of it gets mobilized.

Brown has a statement on his web site outlining his position supporting abortion but also many pro-life limits Coakley opposes.

"While this decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor, I believe we need to reduce the number of abortions in America," it says.

The statement added, “I believe government has the responsibility to regulate in this area and I support parental consent and notification requirements and I oppose partial-birth abortion. I also believe there are people of good will on both sides of the issue and we ought to work together to support and promote adoption as an alternative to abortion.’’

In the state legislature, Brown sponsored the Women’s Right to Know bill to help women get information about abortion alternatives.

He also backed another measure that would allow religious hospitals the right to refuse to dispense the morning after pill because it may sometimes cause an abortion.

Brown’s record has led Dianne Luby, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, to tell the Globe that he is not pro-abortion.

“There is nothing that I can see that demonstrates that he would support abortion rights,’’ she says, adding that Planned Parenthood endorsed Coakley.

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