Brown Coakley Kennedy
Like his Republican opponent, Brown, Joe Kennedy is no fan of the Democratic version of health care reform. He says he believes health care reform is headed for inevitable passage, but he has vowed, if elected, to repeal the legislation “one piece at a time and bring every cent back to the taxpayers.”
Coakley, the state’s attorney general, has pledged to be the crucial 60th vote for health care reform. But Brown has promised to become the 41st vote against it if he is elected, which would sustain a Republican filibuster and kill the bill.
The race has become so close that Obama will make an 11th-hour appearance for Coakley on Sunday in an effort to put her over the top. But Kennedy’s performance in the election two days later could tip the balance, political analysts say.
“He could be the Ralph Nader of this particular race,” Boston University political scientist Thomas Whalen told FoxNews.com.
“No one ever though he would be a factor in this race,” said Mary Ann Marsh, a Massachusetts-based Democratic strategist and adviser to John Kerry’s ’04 presidential campaign. “When you look at the polls, he could be.”
But, in yet another twist, these analysts believe Kennedy’s libertarian views could make him a spoiler for Brown, and not Coakley. Kennedy’s name recognition, Whalen said, is a “little bit overrated,” because only diehard supporters are going to cast ballots Tuesday.
Marsh told FoxNews.com the polling data show that “it’s people who are mad about government spending, real fiscal conservatives who are taking their anger out with him.” She said Kennedy represents a “protest vote” for them.
Kennedy has come under pressure — he said he’s received five death threats — to withdraw because of his potential spoiler role. But he said those threats haven’t come from Coakley supporters, as he expected. Instead, he said, they’ve come from Brown backers.
He said Brown supporters have gotten emotional and are “blaming me for a Brown loss — and the advancement of Obamacare.”
Kennedy said he’s the only candidate against government-run health care, because Brown supports former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s version of public health care.
“The funny thing about the Brown supporters, they’re so unbelievably clueless,” he said. “If I withdrew from the race today, my vote would be split 60-40 going to Coakley.”
Whalen expects Kennedy to get 3 to 4 percent of the vote on Tuesday to help Coakley pull out a slim victory. Marsh said the outcome will depend on independent voter turnout.
Health care reform is not the only reason Kennedy is in the race. He said he decided last February to run for Senate in 2012 after growing sick of government spending under both the Bush and Obama administrations. But when Ted Kennedy died in August, he pushed up his plan.
He collected 13,000 signatures on petitions to get his name on the ballot as an independent.
Kennedy said he knows his chances of winning are slim. But he hopes his candidacy will send a message to the major political parties.
“If I ruin your race, good,” he said. “You’ll put up a better candidate next time. I’m happy to drop out of any race for someone I can vote for.”
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