By: ALEXANDER BURNS on January 20, 2010 @ 6:00 AM
“ON NOTICE” — The first election of 2010 is over. The White House is reeling. Republicans are cocky again. Democrats are reaching for the panic button. And Scott Brown is the new senator-elect from Massachusetts. The National Republican Senatorial Committee’s John Cornyn warned in a statement: “Democrats nationwide should be on notice: Americans are ready to hold the party in power accountable for their irresponsible spending and out-of-touch agenda, and they’re ready for real change in Washington.”
“We had the machine scared and scrambling, and for them it is just the beginning of an election year filled with surprises. They will be challenged again and again across this country,” Brown said in his victory speech.
As Republicans bask, Dems fret and Bay Staters take stock of their new senator, here’s POLITICO’s Morning Score, by Alexander Burns, Mike Allen and the POLITICO national politics team.
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RALLYING ‘ROUND THE WINNER: Republican leaders sent out a flurry of statements cheering Brown’s 52 percent to 47 percent win over Democrat Martha Coakley on Tuesday night. “The voters in Massachusetts, like Americans everywhere, have made it abundantly clear where they stand on health care,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The National Republican Congressional Committee’s Pete Sessions agreed: “Should Democrats continue to ignore these results and double down on their attempt to ram a government health care takeover down the throats of the American people, they will have far more at stake than a Senate seat in Massachusetts.”
GOP candidates across the country tried to tie themselves to the Brown campaign — from Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who released a statement demanding “no delay in seating our newest Republican senator,” to Marco Rubio, who reacted: “In 2010's first major election, voters have demonstrated that ideas and issues reign supreme in our democracy and that nothing comes easy when you stand for the wrong things.”
PENCE FOR SENATE? POLITICO's Josh Kraushaar reports that at least one Republican might do more than cheer for Massachusetts: House GOP Conference Chairman Mike Pence is now considering a campaign of his own against Sen. Evan Bayh. The outspoken conservative could effectively clear the Republican primary field and give his party a top-tier opponent for one of the best-funded Democratic incumbents. Pence issued a statement on the Massachusetts race, saying the “American people are telling Washington, DC enough is enough. In this special election in Massachusetts, they have sent a deafening message to the political class.”
MENENDEZ TAKES IT ON THE CHIN: “I have no interest in sugarcoating what happened in Massachusetts,” the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee chairman said in a statement. “We will sort through the lessons of Massachusetts: the need to redouble our efforts on the economy, the need to show that our commitment to real change is as powerful as it was in 2008, and the reality that we cannot take a single thing for granted and cannot afford even a second of complacency.”
WHEN IN ROME … Patrick Kennedy said Tuesday the election showed voters are looking to inflict damage on politicians in 2010: “It’s like in Roman times; they’d be trotted out to the coliseum, and the lions would be brought out. ... I mean, they’re wanting blood, and they’re not getting it so they want to protest, and, you know, you can’t blame them. But frankly, the fact is we inherited this mess, and it’s becoming ours.”
“ALARM CLOCK” RINGS — POLITICO’s Smith, Martin and Harris capture the choices facing Democrats in the wake of the Massachusetts defeat: “The same forces of disgust with establishment politicians and hunger for change in Washington that vaulted Obama to power 14 months ago can be harnessed with equal success by people who want to stop his agenda in its tracks. The argument that will now consume Democrats is over the remedy — a disagreement that once again opens up the party’s ideological gulf and vastly complicates Obama’s task in trying to push his signature health care agenda to final passage. ... ‘The alarm clock has gone off,’ said Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, who called for a sharper and more confident leftward tack. ‘We fell into the trap of postpartisanship.’ ... But other Democrats were already urging caution, and a shift toward lower spending and lower expectations that would severely cramp Obama's ambitious agenda. ‘There’s going to be a tendency on the part of our people to be in denial about all this,” Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh, who is up for reelection this year, told ABC News.”