01/20/10 — Local party leaders say Mass. vote was wakeup call for all

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Local party leaders say Mass. vote was wakeup call for all

By Steve Herring
Published in News on January 20, 2010 1:46 PM

The election Tuesday of a Republican senator from the traditionally Democratic state of Massachusetts has local GOP leaders anticipating ripples in this fall's elections that could spell change in the makeup of local and state offices.

Scott Brown's victory over Martha Coakley in a special Massachusetts Senate election is just the latest in a trend, said Wayne County GOP Chairman Carroll Turner and former state Republican legislator Louis Pate, both of Mount Olive.

Wayne Democratic Party Chairman Bronnie Quinn disagrees.

Brown will finish the unexpired term of the late Ted Kennedy's. Brown will face re-election in 2012. He will become the 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate, which could allow the GOP to block the health care bill. Democrats needed Coakley to win for a 60th vote to thwart Republican filibusters.

"In Virginia, New Jersey and now Massachusetts, the voters have sent a clear message that they are fed up with the bailouts, bribes, backroom deals and trillion dollar deficits," Turner said. "With the people's help, we can take back our country in November.

"Coming from what is the most liberal state in America, possibly other than California, (the election result) is somewhat shocking. It just shows what can be done when independent and unaffiliated voters combine with the Republicans and Tea Party group."

"(Brown's election) just points to the enormity of the problems the Democrats face," Pate said. "It is not a case of just electing someone different. This is a change of course in Massachusetts. I think it has national implications.

"I think under the current administration the nation is going too far too fast, and I feel that the people have come to realize that. I think that extends down to the state level as well. I think the state levels will reflect that same level when we get there in the fall."

Turner said voters from both major parties are migrating to the independent and unaffiliated. Voters are "fed up," he said. Turner said if we was an elected official in either major party, he would be concerned.

"People are really, really concerned," he said. "I don't believe that we can continue to spend trillions of dollars on everything that comes by. I think people are concerned about that and they have a right to be.

Both Turner and Pate said health care reform is needed.

"If they do what they ought to do, they will just withdraw the (health care) bill and concentrate on jobs and the economy, then start back (on health care) and not with the monstrosity they have come up that won't help a bit."

Turner and Pate said any attempts by Democrats to rush through the bill or attempt other maneuvers to get the bill passed before Brown takes office would backfire.

"I think it would make voters angry, and it would be a bloodbath for Democrats in November if they were do that because it would look just like what it is," Turner said.

It would be a "critical error" on the Democrats' part to try to rush a vote on the health care bill, Pate added.

"The people have spoken, and it is time for them (administration) to listen," he said. "I believe that health care reform is essential, and I believe most people across the country agree, but I think there is a better way.

"The Democrats want to get it passed so they can work within their majority."

However, the plan needs to bring everybody to the table including the taxpayers, he said.

"I think the Democratic Party has given the Republican Party opportunities to work with us, but they have been the party of 'no,'" Quinn said.

However, the election could still be a "wake-up" call, he said.

Quinn said he, too, is concerned about the health care bill.

"I would have liked to have seen a public option," he said. "(The bill) could be dead or it could be an opportunity to make improvements. I would hope they wouldn't rush it, but take their time and work on it. I think rushing it through would be a bad thing.

"My personal opinion is that it is all about jobs. I think once the economy improves, and I think we are seeing that, and jobs improve, I think we will see more move back to the Democratic Party. It takes time. I think people are pleased with the president, and he is doing a good job."

Quinn said the president needs to show that he is more in tune with the average person than Wall Street.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this story.