BOSTON (AP) — Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren defeated Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown on Tuesday, returning to the Democratic column the Senate seat held for nearly half a century by the late Edward Kennedy. Voters also sent another member of the Kennedy family to Congress and solidly backed President Barack Obama for a second term in the White House.
Joseph Kennedy III, the 32-year-old grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and son of former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy and the first of his generation in the family to run for public office, defeated Republican Sean Bielat in the race for the state's redrawn 4th House district. And a ballot question to allow marijuana to be used for certain medical purposes was approved.
The fiercest congressional contest was in the 6th District, where Rep. John Tierney, who was hurt by a gambling scandal involving his wife, overcame Republican Richard Tisei, who was seeking to be the first Massachusetts Republican elected to the House since 1994.
The state's most closely watched contest, and the most expensive in its history, pitted Brown against Warren, a Harvard Law School professor. The candidates combined spent a record $68 million on the campaign, but an unusual agreement they reached to keep outside groups from advertising held through the end.
Warren will be the first woman to hold a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts. She noted that her election came 50 years after Edward Kennedy won his first campaign.
"He said that he would dedicate all of his strength and will to serve you in the United States Senate. For 47 years he did that. Tonight, I pledge to do the same," Warren told jubilant supporters.
Brown upset Democrat Martha Coakley in a January 2010 special election to succeed Kennedy but was unable to repeat his success in the face of a determined Democratic organization.
"You've got no business in politics unless you respect the judgment of people. And if you run for office, you've got to be able to take it either way, winning or losing, and I accept the decision of voters," Brown said, telling supporters in his concession speech that he did not want to see any sad faces.
Joseph Kennedy III, who will take the seat now held by the retiring Democratic Rep. Barney Frank, called his victory an "incredible moment."
Obama, as expected, carried the state's 11 electoral votes in the presidential race, handing Mitt Romney a defeat in his home state, where he served as governor for one term from January 2003 until January 2007.
Many voters clearly wrestled with the decision in the Senate race.
In Wayland, a western suburb of Boston, 53-year-old Bob Virzi said he picked Warren.
"It was a tough call," he said. "I just feel like we can't let the Senate go into Republican control. I like Scott Brown, but if you look at his record, it's not as clear-cut as it should be."
Virzi, an unaffiliated voter who describes himself as a semi-retired consultant, also voted for Obama, saying the economy was much better off than when he took office.
Lynda Connell, a 50-year-old registered nurse from Whitman, said she voted for Brown because she believed he was willing to work with Republicans and Democrats.
"He's very bipartisan, and he's voted on the issues, not just by the party," Connell said.
Connell said she voted for Romney for fiscal reasons.
"He's run a major company. I liked him when he was governor. I think he did a good job," she said.
Romney drew high security when he and his wife cast their ballots in suburban Belmont, which they still call home. They later traveled to Ohio and Pennsylvania for last-day campaigning in key swing states before returning to Boston, where supporters had gathered at the city's convention center.
Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin said mostly anecdotal reports around the state pointed to a strong turnout, with long lines at some polling places. He said he had received relatively few reports of major voting problems and most had been resolved.
Voters said yes to ballot Question 3, allowing marijuana to be used medically for people with cancer, AIDS, Lou Gehrig's Disease and several other conditions. The law would create nonprofit medical marijuana treatment centers regulated by the state Department of Public Health.
Also approved was Question 1, which requires automakers to share diagnostic and repair information with independent mechanics. The Legislature approved a compromise version of "Right to Repair" in July, but it was too late to remove the question from the ballot.
Voters were also deciding Question 2, which would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication at the request of certain terminally ill patients. The results were too close to call early Wednesday.
Besides Tierney, Democratic incumbents carried the day in the state's other House races.
Rep. Edward Markey, the dean of the state's congressional delegation, defeated Republican Tom Tierney in the 5th district; Rep. Niki Tsongas bested Jon Golnick in the 3rd district; freshman Rep. William Keating defeated Christopher Sheldon in the 9th district; Rep. Stephen Lynch won over Republican Joe Selvaggi in the 8th district; and Rep. Michael Capuano won over independent Karla Romero in the 7th District.
Rep. Richard Neal in the 1st District and Rep. James McGovern in the 2nd District were unopposed Tuesday.