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Democrats Vow to Press Health Care Reform Despite Stunning Defeat

U.S. Senate Democrats are vowing to press ahead with President Barack Obama's health care reform plan, despite losing a key seat held by the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy, one of the plan's biggest supporters.

In a stunning upset, Republican Scott Brown won a special election Tuesday in Massachusetts to fill that seat, which Kennedy held for nearly a half-century.

His win carries major political ramifications, as Brown will become the 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate. That gives minority Republicans the power to block or delay Democratic-supported legislation.

Speaking Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the Democrats will continue working to pass a health care reform bill. He urged Republicans and Democrats to work together as partners.

Brown campaigned against the president's health care reform legislation in his race against Democrat Martha Coakley.

The senator-elect, appearing on NBC television Wednesday, said he does not think his victory was simply a judgment of the Obama administration, as many analysts have suggested.

Mr. Obama called Brown to congratulate him, and pledged to work with him on "the urgent economic challenges" facing families across the nation.

Brown defeated Coakley, the Massachusetts attorney general, by a margin of 52 to 47 percent.

Tuesday's contested seat was held by the late Ted Kennedy for 47 years. The Democratic senator, who died of brain cancer in August, was a younger brother of the late President John F. Kennedy.

Brown will fill the remaining two years of Ted Kennedy's term, and will face re-election in 2012.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.