Will Health Care Reform Tip Senate Race to GOP in Massachusetts?

There’s an election coming up in Massachusetts to replace Senator Ted Kennedy. Properly waged by the Republican, Scott Brown, it could become a perfect storm of the health care debate. Sissy Willis proposes that it be made a referendum on the potential national catastrophe being masticated by Congress, with the latest milestone the corrupt passage of the Senate version as early coal in the nation’s stocking on Christmas Eve. It has the potential to be a brilliant political move.

Consider: Ted Kennedy was the leading proponent of nationalizing health care for decades. When he died last year of brain cancer, the Democrats cynically (and shamefully, in my opinion) used the event to play on the emotions of those who might have loved him, but were less enamored with the proposal. “Pass it for Teddy,” was the cry. “Let it be his legacy.”

Consider also: Massachusetts is the home of a prototype of ObamaCare (thanks in no small part to Mitt Romney, the former Republican presidential candidate and Massachusetts governor). It (like the national plan percolating in Congress) mandated that all Massachusetts residents purchase health insurance. It seems to be failing on all fronts, with rising costs, more emergency room visits, and many unhappy residents. This may play no small part in Romney’s bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Now, consider the timing. The special election will take place on January 19. It’s accepted political wisdom now that, despite the rush to vote before Christmas in the Senate, the conference and reconciliation between the House and Senate versions of the national plan cannot occur in time to allow a vote on the reconciled bill prior to February. That means that a referendum in Massachusetts on the subject could have an interesting effect on wavering votes in both the House and the Senate. There is no margin for error in the Senate, where the health care bill got exactly the sixty votes needed to pass, and a slim one in the House.

If a Republican running against ObamaCare managed to pick up the seat of Ted Kennedy, or even come close to doing so, it would be a political earthquake of Richter 8+. What would that say about the popularity of the bill if it wasn’t even a winning issue in the state that had the most first-hand experience with it, not to mention in the election to replace the senator who had been a leading proponent of it? It would make it very difficult for the Democrats to continue to delude themselves that this legislation is a winning issue in the country at large, if it clearly wasn’t in one of the bluest of the blue states.