Republican Scott Brown drove his pickup truck around the state to display his regular guy status in his campaign for U.S. Senate against Martha Coakley.
But the real fuel behind his electrifying victory in yesterday's special election was dissatisfaction over the proposed national health care bill and liberal spending in Washington, according to many voters in the Merrimack Valley.
"Health care is our biggest issue and I don't think it's something that should be just pushed through," said Mark Colonna, 48, of Methuen, who voted for Brown at Tenney Grammar School.
Bianca Garside, 45, a cosmetologist, also from Methuen, said she voted for Brown to slow down the "things happening with the health care bill."
"We need change," said Beverly Monaco, a 65-year-old retiree from Methuen. "That health bill is crap. We pay enough taxes now, don't we?"
In Andover, Bruce Campbell, 59, a financial analyst, voted for Brown.
"His biggest concern is the deficit. It's gotten worse with the Democrats. All we've done so far is spend money," he said.
Joanne Walsh of Bradford who works in human resources, said she came out for Brown because Coakley is "part of the old bureaucracy and she isn't in touch with everyday people."
About health care Walsh said, "It is good in theory, but I don't think it will work the way it stands." "I'm sick of the status quo and I'm not a big Obama fan. I think Scott Brown will lead us in the right direction," said Carolyn Lafferty of Haverhill, an interior designer.
Former Lawrence Mayor Michael Sullivan, a member of the Republican State Committee, said Brown's candidacy obviously transcended party affiliations.
"I think what's important here; this wasn't a Republican victory. If you looked at the numbers, you have a great Republican candidate Scott Brown appealing to independents and Democrats as well as Republicans," Sullivan said.
"The health care bill needs to be re-evaluated, and we need to lower taxes. Those are the two issues that crossed over all other party lines that gave him this big victory tonight."
Sal Colletta, 44, a dentist from North Andover, said the message he sent by voting for Brown was "pretty basic ... smaller government and less taxes."
"I think it's a bad idea for Democrats to have a majority for the Senate, House and White House. To me, its a checks and balance issue," Colletta said.
Methuen Mayor William Manzi said Brown's victory is a "stunning development" and has "great national implications."
"The economy is in great difficulty, not just in Massachusetts, but throughout the country. Honestly, the Democratic Party needs to take a look at this at recalibrate their political strategy and the message," Manzi said.
"Scott Brown managed to nationalize the election. ...Quite clearly, the better campaign won," Manzi said.
Staff reporters Mark E. Vogler, J.J. Huggins, Brian Messenger and Mike LaBella contributed to the report.