Triumph of a Republican populist in a pick-up

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The Independent US

When Cosmopolitan featured him nude in their June 1982 issue, they called Scott Brown, then a Boston law student, not just "America's Sexiest Man" but also "strong but huggable". It is a description that may still apply given the surge of support he received from Massachusetts voters.

Many things may have contributed to Tuesday night's victory of Mr Brown but not least among them was the contrast between his campaigning style and that of his Democratic rival, state Attorney General Martha Coakley, whom he finally defeated 52 per cent to 47. He was as personable and appealing as she was distant and desiccated. He seemed approachable while she remained distant.

Mr Brown, 50, who was first elected to the state Senate in 2004, was also remarkably focused in his message, creating a rallying cry out of his promise to become the "41st Republican" in the US Senate who would be able to block the healthcare reform bill that was integral to the political ambitions of the giant he will now be replacing in the Senate, the late Edward Kennedy.

Mr Brown struck a populist pose, driving his pick-up truck across the state and winning the support of mainstream Republicans, independents and the angry ranks of the new Tea Party movement. In Washington he will not be easy to pigeonhole. He is opposed to gay rights but supports abortion, in most cases. He also backed President Barack Obama's deployments to Afghanistan.

The whole family seems suited to the limelight. Aside from that Cosmo shot, Mr Brown modelled (for Jordache jeans) and appeared in television commercials. His wife, Gail Huff, is an on-air reporter with a Boston television station. One of their two daughters, Ayla, was a semi-finalist in the fifth season of American Idol.

Mr Brown is a triathlon enthusiast who, until the rigours of the Senate campaign set in, trained religiously at 5am. He is a property lawyer and has belonged to the state National Guard for the last 30 years, gaining the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Though he has never served in a war zone, he has been deployed to Kazakhstan and Paraguay.

On Comedy Central, Jon Stewart of The Daily Show observed that "the Kennedy legacy goes down to a naked guy who owns a truck". But in Massachusetts they know snobbery when they see it, which is partly why Mr Brown won and Ms Coakley lost.