BOSTON (AP) — Massachusetts more than lived up to its reputation as a solidly Democratic state, as the party reclaimed the U.S. Senate seat once held by Edward Kennedy, swept all nine U.S. House races and backed President Barack Obama in the home state of Republican candidate Mitt Romney.
Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, defeated Republican Sen. Scott Brown on Tuesday in a closely watched race that was the most expensive in state history, with the candidates spending a combined $68 million.
The GOP's hopes of capturing its first victory in a House race since 1994 were also dashed when embattled Democratic Rep. John Tierney squeezed out a narrow win over challenger Richard Tisei in the state's 6th District. Tierney's campaign had been dogged by questions about what he knew of an illegal offshore gambling ring involving his wife's family.
Tisei conceded the close election on Wednesday.
Voters in the 4th District, meanwhile, sent another Kennedy to Congress. Joseph Kennedy III, the 32-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and son of former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, handily defeated Republican Sean Bielat.
Massachusetts voters also weighed in on three ballot questions, giving approval for the use of medical marijuana for certain conditions and for a so-called "right to repair" automotive law.
Backers of a question that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication for terminally ill patients conceded defeat on Wednesday, though the voting was too close to call.
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, who upset Democrat Martha Coakley in a January 2010 special election to succeed Kennedy, 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 told supporters in his concession speech.
Obama, as expected, carried the state's 11 electoral votes on his way to winning a second term. Romney, who served one term as governor from 2003-2007, and his wife voted Tuesday morning in suburban Belmont, which they still call home. They later traveled to Ohio and Pennsylvania for last-day campaigning before returning to Boston, where he would eventually deliver his concession speech at the city's convention center.
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.