United States Senate election in Massachusetts, 1978
Results by town. Red indicates towns carried by Edward Brooke, blue indicates towns carried by Paul Tsongas.
|Elections in Massachusetts|
The United States Senate election of 1978 in Massachusetts was held on November 7, 1978, with the incumbent Republican Senator Edward Brooke being defeated by then Democratic Congressman Paul E. Tsongas.
- Edward Brooke, incumbent Senator, former Massachusetts Attorney General.
- Avi Nelson, radio-television host.
- Paul Tsongas, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts's 5th congressional district since 1975.
- Kathleen Sullivan, then member of the Boston School Committee. Daughter of New England Patriots owner Billy Sullivan (1915-1998) and later wife of former Mayor of San Francisco Joseph Alioto .
- Paul Guzzi, Massachusetts Secretary of the Commonwealth since 1975, Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1971-1975.
- Elaine Noble, Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives since 1975. Noble was the first openly gay or lesbian candidate elected to a state legislature.
- Howard Phillips, Former Nixon Administration official. Served as the acting Director of the Office of Economic Opportunity in 1973.
General election campaign
Early in the campaign season, Brooke was considered a favorite for re-election. Tsongas was a relatively unknown Representative statewide and nationally, whereas Brooke remained something of an icon as the first popularly-elected black Senator and a member of Republican leadership.
However, Brooke faced mounting scrutiny from the news media after his decision to divorce from his wife of 29 years, Remigia, in 1975. The couple had been separated for many years and Brooke was frequently seen in the company of other women in Washington, including Barbara Walters. After Senator Brooke filed for divorce, Remigia responded with a suit of her own, alleging "cruel and abusive treatment." While not directly addressing Brooke's divorce, Tsongas attacked Brooke as out of touch with Massachusetts voters and too "Washington-oriented."
Both candidates were considered liberals by contemporary definition, with Brooke known as a public supporter of the women's rights movement of the time and Tsongas receiving a perfect rating from the group Americans for Democratic Action. Tsongas was seen as the more liberal of the two, but Brooke ultimately received the support of many liberal Democrats and civil rights leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, Coretta Scott King, and Barney Frank.
The issue of Brooke's divorce became more politically serious in May 1978, when The Boston Globe reported that as part of the divorce proceedings, Brooke had lied about the source of a personal loan. While Brooke argued that the loan had no material impact on his divorce and that he had broken no law, the Senate Ethics Committee conducted a lengthy investigation into the matter that is believed to have hurt Brooke's credibility and standing in the race.
Race was another major issue, demonstrated by the reaction to anti-segregation busing policies in the commonwealth. Brooke was a major opponent of anti-busing legislation, having successfully campaigned against the Biden Amendment to end federal funding of busing programs. Brooke's support of busing policies likely cost him votes in Boston and other working-class white communities, which had rioted in preceding years over the issue. Prominent South Boston politician Louise Day Hicks decried Brooke as an "apostle of urban neglect." For his part, Tsongas largely avoided the busing issue, but did make the claim that voting for Brooke on the basis of his race was "the other side of racism."
|Democratic||Kathleen Sullivan Alioto||161,036||19.28%|
|Democratic||Paul E. Tsongas||1,093,283||55.06%|
- Jr, B. Drummond Ayres (1978-11-09). "Tsongas Played Underdog Role To Oust Brooke in Senate Race". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- "'Who Is Remigia Brooke?'". Washington Post. 1978-07-11. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- "After Years Apart, Senator Brooke and His Italian Wife File for Divorce—and Tempers Erupt". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- Sokol, Jason (2014). All Eyes are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn. New York, NY: Basic Books. pp. 223–224. ISBN 978-0-465-05671-2.
- Sokol, Jason. "How a Young Joe Biden Turned Liberals Against Integration". POLITICO Magazine. Retrieved 2018-02-12.
- Bernstein, Adam (2003-10-23). "Louise Day Hicks Dies at 87". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-02-12.