News Alert: Forces Converge on Massachusetts in Special Election

By Frank Keegan on January 17, 2010

By Frank Keegan, Editor of

WOBURN, Mass. — Canadian Fred Taggert shook his head Sunday night as he watched the group of about 20 young people bustling around in the lobby of the Hampton Inn here tapping laptops and reading through official Secretary of State election rules.

"This is amazing," he said. "What's going on?"

Told it was a gathering of citizens intent on monitoring the Tuesday election for the late Sen, Edward M. Kennedy's seat, the consultant from Toronto said, "You'd never see anything like this in Canada."

He said, "we will have poll watchers in every targeted precinct … to identify, publicize and prevent election fraud."

The race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown is drawing media attention and political forces from around the nation as recent polls reveal a chance Brown could win the seat held for 47 years by Kennedy.

Massachusetts Democrats outnumber Republicans two to one, and gave John Kerry a 1 million vote margin in the last Senate election.

The recent rise of Brown in polling is admitted by both parties to be a phenomenon indicating a fundamental shift in the political landscape.

Pres. Obama came to the state Sunday to rally Democrats for Coakley, the Attorney General.

According to Tripp, "the Coakley campaign is bringing people in from other states because the Democrats are so demoralized by her campaign."

He said, "I lived here for several years in the early '90s, so I have a sense of the machine here."

Tripp described ALG as "a nonprofit Fairfax, Va., based organization that likes to pick fights so we can limit the size of government."

He said it is "absolutely nonpartisan," adding, "everybody is in favor of honest elections."

A key national issue in the race is Democrat's loss of the veto-proof 60th vote on the national health-care bill.

Taggert, who is staying at the hotel while here on business, said as a recipient of Canada's government health-care program he finds that interesting. "You know, with two kids, and I've had surgeries, we've never had a bill. You get care. But I pay 51 percent taxes."

Reporters from the Franklin Center on Government and Public Integrity and its Watchdog affiliates are in Massachusetts covering the election.