Martha Coakley just called me for, oh, the fifteenth time over the long weekend. I get multiple fliers in my mailbox every day. People from other states are calling me and asking me to volunteer. I’m sure I would be seeing nonstop ads on TV, except I don’t watch TV. All this started within the last week when, as many news outlets have noted, the Democrats woke up and realized they might actually lose Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.
We’re not used to competitive elections here in Massachusetts, certainly not competitive elections with national implications. But this one is huge. The Republicans have been admirably or distressingly able, depending on your perspective, to hold forty votes against more or less anything the Democrats and President Obama want to accomplish, including health care reform. I think it’s a fairly easy bet that if Coakley loses, health care reform is dead until 2013 at the earliest, since there is no chance the Republicans will allow anything that looks like an accomplishment to occur if they can possibly help it. So if you live in Massachusetts, and you care about health care reform one way or the other, you should take the time to vote tomorrow.
Update: A friend emailed to point out that should Brown win, the House Democrats could pass the Senate bill, which presumably would not then have to go back to the Senate to be voted on again. (If the conference committee modifies the Senate bill, then it would have to go back.) Then some provisions could be modified through the budget reconciliation process, which only requires 51 votes. So a Coakley defeat might not be the end.
As for the comment about whether the Democrats could have negotiated with the Republicans to pick off one or two votes, they tried that for months–first via the Baucus Group of Six, then later directly with Snowe. Snowe ended up pulling out saying that the Democrats were rushing the bill, when they had spent several months talking to her specifically.
By James Kwak