Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley campaigns on Ted Kennedy name

Alex Pappas Political Reporter
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Ted Kennedy may be gone, but his name is all over the Massachusetts Senate race.

Donors pumped more than $500,000 into the campaign coffers of Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate for Senate in Massachusetts, yesterday following a plea from the late Kennedy’s widow in the name of her husband’s legacy.

“We have just 6 days to do the hard work of electing Martha Coakley so that we can continue the agenda that Ted made the fight of his life,” Vicki Kennedy said in an email blasted to supporters by the Coakley campaign.

With polls showing a close race between Coakley and Republican Scott Brown, the Kennedy family has come to the forefront of Coakley’s campaign to encourage voters to honor Teddy’s legacy on health care by shutting out Brown — who has vowed to be Republicans 41st vote to filibuster the final bill.

Last week, members of Ted Kennedy’s family endorsed Coakley and former Congressman Joe Kennedy said: “I think that my Uncle Teddy would be so proud.”

At the Medford, Mass. endorsement ceremony, Coakley told those assembled that, “While no one can ever fill Senator Kennedy’s shoes, I will work every day to follow in his footsteps and fight for issues such as meaningful health-care reform and equal rights for all.”

Today on MSNBC, reporter Chuck Todd said Vicki Kennedy has also cut a TV ad for the Coakley campaign.  And in another fundraising email this afternoon, Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer of New York asked supporters to donate money because “Martha Coakley is running to fill the rest of Ted Kennedy’s term and her opponent is a far-right tea-bagger Republican.”

“It would be bad enough to lose this seat — and Democrats’ sixtieth vote in the Senate — right before the final health care reform vote,” Schumer wrote. “But it would be even worse for the decisive ‘no’ vote to come from Ted Kennedy’s old seat.”

Brown capitalized on the Ted Kennedy when he scored a sound bite during Monday’s debate when moderator David Gergen asked him whether he’d be willing to “sit in Teddy Kennedy’s seat” and block Obama’s health care bill.

Brown responded saying, “Well, with all due respect it’s not the Kennedys’ seat, and it’s not the Democrats’ seat, it’s the people’s seat.”