Elizabeth Warren first female senator from Massachusetts
Democrat Elizabeth Warren hugs her husband Bruce Mann during an election night rally at the Fairmont Copley Plaza hotel in Boston after Warren defeated incumbent GOP Sen. Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
BOSTON — Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, architect of the financial watchdog agency set up by the Obama administration after the meltdown on Wall Street, has reclaimed Edward Kennedy’s old Senate seat for the Democrats.
Warren defeated Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown on Tuesday in one of the most expensive and hard-fought Senate contests of the year. The two candidates spent a total of more than $68 million.
Warren, 63, beat Brown by about 54 percent to 46 percent, becoming the first woman elected to the Senate from Massachusetts.
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Two years ago, Brown stunned the Democrats when he won a special election for the Senate seat left vacant when Kennedy died. Kennedy, one of the foremost liberals on Capitol Hill, had served for 47 years.
Warren, speaking at a Boston hotel, saluted her supporters for helping her unseat the popular incumbent.
“You did what everyone thought was impossible. You taught a scrappy first-time candidate how to get in the ring and win,” she said. “You took on the powerful Wall Street banks and special interests and you let them know you want a senator who’ll be out there fighting for the middle class all of the time.”
Brown thanked his supporters and called himself “a fortunate man.”
“I don’t want to see any sad faces,” he said. “We ran a fantastic campaign.”
Warren, a Harvard Law professor, helped create the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the wake of the mortgage crisis and the financial abuses exposed on Wall Street.
The two candidates signed an unusual agreement to discourage super PACs and other independent groups from running TV, radio and Internet ads, but they still raised staggering amounts.
Warren cast herself as a fighter for the middle class and portrayed Brown as beholden to “big oil” and “millionaires and billionaires.”
Both candidates pushed hard for the female vote, and Warren captured the bulk of it, winning the votes of nearly 6 in 10 women.
She stumbled early in the campaign over her claim of Indian heritage and her decision to identify herself as a minority in law school directories from 1986 to 1995. She said she was told by her family that her mother had Cherokee and Delaware Indian background. But Brown accused her of misrepresenting her background and using it to help land a job at Harvard, something Warren and those who hired her denied.
Brown was elected with tea party backing two years ago but steered a more centrist course in the Senate. During his campaign against Warren, he downplayed his GOP roots and touted instances in which he broke with his party, including supporting the creation of the financial watchdog agency and backing the rights of gays to serve openly in the military.
Warren supporter Edy Rees, 70, of Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood, was jubilant.
“She’s for the 100 percent of us, whereas poor Scott Brown, maybe he’s for himself, maybe he’s for the 1 percent, but either way, he’s not doing his job,” said a grinning Rees, who wore a “Grandparent for Elizabeth” button.