Politics: Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate Win

State Senator Scott Brown’s U.S. Senate win over Attorney General Martha Coakley stunned the nation, derailed Obama’s signature political initiative, and handed state Republicans their first major victory in decades. Here, a behind-the-scenes look at the final days of the historic campaign for Ted Kennedy’s seat.

TUESDAY, JANUARY 19: ELECTION DAY
At 4 p.m., in the presidential suite of the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston, Scott Brown is practicing his victory speech. He has not prepared a concession speech. Eric Fehrnstrom never told him to consider one.

The polls close at 8. The results from the Democratic base of Greater Boston are not nearly as strong as the Coakley campaign had hoped. Conroy and Dennis Newman are monitoring returns by phone, text, Internet, and TV in a fifth-floor room at the Sheraton Boston, the same hotel where a month earlier they celebrated Coakley’s primary win. By 8:10, Newman’s seen enough. He gives Conroy a shake of the head.

He and Conroy take the elevator up to the suite where Coakley is waiting with her husband.

There are two lines on the telephone that Brown aide Maria Coakley (no relation to Martha) is to monitor in the presidential suite, in an office just off the living room. The first rings incessantly, local politicians reporting results. The second is a secure line that the attorney general is to call if she concedes.

Nearly 30 people are in the living and dining rooms: Mitt Romney, Doug Flutie, Lenny Clarke, talk-show host Jay Severin, House Minority Leader Brad Jones. The TVs are on. No one’s drinking anything stronger than coffee. The chatter is anxious.

At 9:10, the secure line rings. Oh my God. This is too early, Maria thinks.

She answers. “Scott Brown’s room at the Park Plaza Hotel.”

The man on the other end says his name is Kevin Conroy, and that Martha Coakley would like to speak with Scott Brown.

“Hold on, please. Please don’t hang up,” Maria says.

She spots the candidate in a corner of the living room.

“Scott,” she says. “We’ve got the call.”

Brown smiles. He moves toward the phone and yells:

“We’ve got the call!”

 
This story is based on more than three dozen interviews with political insiders, Federal Election Commission records, ad-purchase data, news archives, and YouTube footage.