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Massachusetts Senate debate canceled due to Hurricane Sandy

BOSTON (Reuters) - Hurricane Sandy prompted Republican Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to scrap plans for their fourth and final debate scheduled for Tuesday night.

Their campaigns cited concerns about the damage to Massachusetts from the hurricane, which brought heavy rains and driving winds to the state on Monday and was expected to make landfall over southern New Jersey on Monday evening.

"The Scott Brown campaign today announced that out of concern for the hardship faced by people in the path of Hurricane Sandy that he will not be participating in tomorrow's fourth and final debate," said Colin Reed, a spokesman for Brown.

Warren campaign manager Mindy Myers said that "the focus now must be on public safety and ensuring people get the help they need during the storm and in its aftermath."

With eight days to go until the November 6 general election, the massive storm has wreaked havoc with campaigns ranging from local races to the contest for the White House, with President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney canceling some campaign appearances due to Sandy.

A Boston Globe poll on Monday showed Brown and Warren, a Harvard law professor, in a statistical dead heat, with the incumbent backed by 45 percent of likely voters compared to Warren's 43 percent. The poll had a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points.

Brown took office in 2010 after winning the seat formerly held by the late Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy.

(Reporting by Scott Malone; Editing by Will Dunham)

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