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Jan 19, 2010 11:02 AM by Associated Press

Massachusetts Senate race called "crucial"

Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele isn't making predictions but calls today's special Senate election in Massachusetts crucial.

He says that Democrats who dominated politics a year ago are finding the landscape "very different" now.

But he did say he expects majority Democrats in the U.S. Senate to quickly seat Scott Brown, if he wins, and that any delaying tactics would be "unseemly."

Former Democratic Party Chairman Terry McAuliffe, appearing on the same show, acknowledged "an anti-incumbency mood" and said his party must get a healthy voter turnout to avoid an upset.

Brown and Democrat Martha Coakley are locked in a neck-and-neck race in a state that hasn't elected a Republican senator since 1972.

With the Democrats' 60-vote Senate supermajority at stake, President Barack Obama needs Coakley, the state's attorney general, to win today to deny Republicans the ability to block his initiatives, including his signature health care overhaul.

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