BOSTON (AP) — Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren defeated Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown on Tuesday, returning to the Democratic column the Senate seat held for nearly half a century by the late Edward Kennedy.
The state's most closely watched contest, and the most expensive in its history, pitted Brown against Warren, a Harvard Law School professor. The candidates combined spent a record $68 million on the campaign, but an unusual agreement they reached to keep outside groups from advertising held through the end.
Warren will be the first woman to hold a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. She noted that her election came 50 years after Edward Kennedy won his first campaign.
"He said that he would dedicate all of his strength and will to serve you in the United States Senate. For 47 years he did that. Tonight, I pledge to do the same," Warren told jubilant supporters.
Brown upset Democrat Martha Coakley in a January 2010 special election to succeed Kennedy but was unable to repeat his success in the face of a determined Democratic organization.
"You've got no business in politics unless you respect the judgment of people. And if you run for office, you've got to be able to take it either way, winning or losing, and I accept the decision of voters," Brown said, telling supporters in his concession speech that he did not want to see any sad faces.
Many voters clearly wrestled with the decision in the Senate race.
In Wayland, a western suburb of Boston, 53-year-old Bob Virzi said he picked Warren.
"It was a tough call," he said. "I just feel like we can't let the Senate go into Republican control. I like Scott Brown, but if you look at his record, it's not as clear-cut as it should be."
Virzi, an unaffiliated voter who describes himself as a semi-retired consultant, also voted for Obama, saying the economy was much better off than when he took office.
Lynda Connell, a 50-year-old registered nurse from Whitman, said she voted for Brown because she believed he was willing to work with Republicans and Democrats.
"He's very bipartisan, and he's voted on the issues, not just by the party," Connell said.
Connell said she voted for Romney for fiscal reasons.
"He's run a major company. I liked him when he was governor. I think he did a good job," she said.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said mostly anecdotal reports around the state pointed to a strong turnout, with long lines at some polling places. He said he had received relatively few reports of major voting problems and most had been resolved.