NEWSMAKER-New U.S. senator drives pick-up truck to victory
BOSTON Jan 20 (Reuters) - Massachusetts' U.S. Senator-elect Scott Brown emerged from nowhere on Tuesday as the Republican Party's newest star -- a handsome, truck-driving triathlete with the best quality of all: winner.
With eyes across the nation riveted on the Massachusetts poll, Brown's huge upset win to fill the Senate seat held by Democratic icon Edward Kennedy for almost five decades gained the 50-year-old instant name and face recognition.
"I'm Scott Brown. I'm from Wrentham. I drive a truck. And I'm nobody's senator but yours," the Republican told a packed crowd at his victory party in a downtown Boston hotel.
Brown climbed back from a deep deficit in the polls against his opponent, Democratic state Attorney General Martha Coakley, with an old-fashioned political campaign that only in the final stages got an extra push from political heavyweights.
A former model, he posed nearly naked for Cosmopolitan magazine in the 1980s while in law school, leading the Washington Post to call Brown "Senator Beefcake" in its Wednesday "Style" section.
But Brown did not rely on just good looks. He crisscrossed the state in his 2005 GMC Canyon pick-up truck, with almost 200,000 miles (320,000 km) on the odometer, and pressed the flesh at rallies in jeans and brown work-jacket.
Democratic President Barack Obama mocked Brown's television ads featuring the truck while campaigning for Coakley in Boston on Sunday.
"When he criticized my truck, that's where I draw the line," Brown quipped.
Reveling in the spotlight, the affable Brown joked about how he and daughter Ayla, who plays basketball for Boston College, were ready to take on Obama.
"If the president thinks they've got basketball talent at the White House, I ask him to pick his best teammate and find some time to play two-on-two with Ayla and me," he said.
Some partisan barbs found their way into the victory speech of the candidate who until now has been just one of five Republicans in the 40-member state senate, and who campaigned relentlessly against the Democrats' healthcare reform proposals.
"One thing is clear, voters do not want the trillion-dollar healthcare bill that is being forced on the American people," Brown said.
But aware that his victory was propelled by many independent and Democratic voters as well, Brown praised the political heritage of the Kennedy family.
"Ted Kennedy was a tireless and big-hearted public servant, and for most of my lifetime was a force like no other in this state ... tonight I honor his memory, and I pledge my very best to be a worthy successor," said Brown. (Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Mary Milliken)
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