Martha Coakley & President Obama


*Massachusetts voters head to the polls today (01-19-10)  in a cliffhanger election for a new U.S. senator that could derail Democrats’ dominance in Washington and scuttle their top priority of sweeping healthcare reform.

What looked likely to be a Democratic shoo-in to replace late party icon Edward Kennedy has instead turned into a too-close-to-call race with a last-minute rally by a Republican, State Senator Scott Brown, a relative unknown just weeks ago.

Latest polls suggest he could defeat state Attorney General Martha Coakley, which would be a huge upset in this traditionally liberal New England state, take away the Democrats’ supermajority in congress and thereby reshape President Barack Obama’s agenda after just one year in office.

Kennedy, who held the seat for almost 47 years, died in August of brain cancer. Massachusetts last elected a Republican to the Senate in 1972, but the weak economy and doubts about the healthcare overhaul have moved voters to reconsider political loyalties passed down through generations.

Their possible change of heart could not have come at a more crucial juncture for Obama.

Get MORE of this Reuters story, HERE.