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November 07. 2012 3:29AM

Warren defeats Brown in Mass. Senate race

Democrat Elizabeth Warren, whose attacks on Wall Street helped fuel her political ascent, became the first woman U.S. senator from Massachusetts by ousting Republican Scott Brown.

Brown shocked the political establishment in 2010 when he won the special election.

Sen. Edward Kennedy held the seat for almost 47 years before his death.

Warren, 63, is a Harvard University professor who helped President Barack Obama establish the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the Wall Street regulatory overhaul.

She highlighted the agency's success in returning millions of dollars to people who had been cheated.

"Grassroots beats big money any time," Michael Dukakis, the former governor and Democratic presidential nominee, told cheering Warren supporters in a Boston hotel after the jumbo television screens announced her victory.

Brown, 53, emphasized his independence from the Republican Party in a state dominated by Democrats. A former state senator in Massachusetts who was a model before he became a lawyer, Brown sought to appeal to Obama supporters by featuring images of himself with the president in some ads.

Democrats gave Warren a prime-time speaking role at their national convention. She attacked Brown for voting against a measure making it easier for women to sue for equal pay, health insurance coverage for birth control, and one of Obama's Supreme Court nominees.

The gender gap can play a critical role in Massachusetts politics.

In 2010, Brown lost the women's vote to Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley by just three percentage points, 51 to 48, according to a Washington Post poll taken after Brown's upset victory. Warren had a 26-point lead among likely women voters in a survey from Western New England University Polling Institute released last month.

Brown's popularity peaked as an emblem of opposition to Obama's health-care changes, according to Clark S. Judge, managing director at the White House Writers Group Inc. in Washington and a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H.W. Bush.

"There wasn't anything comparable to drive his candidacy this time," Judge said in a phone interview. "Warren was a very tough fighter, and in an environment where the presidential race in Massachusetts was very favorable to the president, he just couldn't overcome it."

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