Republicans' leading man was a Cosmo centrefold

Candidate battling Democrats in Kennedy seat named America's sexiest man – in 1982

As voters in Massachusetts flooded polling centres yesterday to choose a successor to the late Senator Ted Kennedy, there was one image of the Republican runner, Scott Brown, that may or may not have been in their minds: half prone and naked with only a carefully placed hand hiding his most precious assets.

A campaign poster this was not. Rather it was the picture of him that graced a spread inside Cosmopolitan magazine when it named him "America's Sexiest Man" in 1982.

Had it emerged sooner, the portrait could have put the brakes on the Brown insurgency. But last night, he was potentially on the brink of pulling off one of the most astonishing election upsets in years, with the general consensus being that the race was too close to call.

Supporters of his Democrat rival, Martha Coakley, who until a few days ago thought they had a lock on the contest, tried at the last moment to point to comments made by Mr Brown during the 2008 presidential campaign insinuating that Barack Obama may have been born out of wedlock. Yet such has been the ferocity of fire that has propelled Mr Brown's campaign in recent days, it is possible that not even last-minute embarrassments could have stopped it.

Driving this surge has been a welling of voter discontent on the first anniversary of Mr Obama's swearing-in, for reasons ranging from a still cruel economy and the perception of a federal government turned bloated and profligate in Washington. Ms Coakley has seen her once 30 percentage-point lead over Mr Brown evaporate in just days.

That Massachusetts suddenly became the epicentre of American politics this week took everyone by surprise. Special elections like this normally bring sparse participation, but there were huge queues at ballot stations throughout the state yesterday indicating an exceptionally high turnout.

If Mr Obama wakes this morning to find that the one-time Cosmo model has indeed won, then the President faces the real possibility that the healthcare reform bill that has taken a year to squeeze through the creaking cogs of Congress may be stopped in its tracks.

Even before the Massachusetts result was known, Democrat leaders on Capitol Hill were insisting that a way would be found to get the bill on to the President's desk for signature. "There is no 'back to the drawing board'", House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters, saying there would be a final healthcare law "one way or the other".

But anything that looks like legislative trickery could bring a nasty backlash for Democrats with a new Washington Post-ABC poll showing that only 44 per cent of Americans now support the reform plan, with 51 per cent opposed. With midterm elections due in November, the governing party cannot risk alienating voters any further.

As for the Cosmopolitan spread, which appeared in the June 1982 issue, Mr Brown was at Boston College in the midst of his final law exams when it was shot. Though he surely cannot have known that one day he would compete to fill the shoes of Teddy Kennedy, he did give a hint as to his future ambitions in a brief interview when he admitted to being a "bit of a patriot".

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week