Shortly after ringing in the New Year, recently-defeated Massachusetts senator Scott Brown began to openly weigh the idea of running for Senator John Kerry's seat, which is expected to become vacant after Kerry's (presumed) confirmation as secretary of state. Brown has said that the Democrats have made it "awfully tempting" for him to run.
As one of the most bipartisan senators on Capitol Hill, Brown has been very successful in selling his image as a moderate Republican in the blue state of Massachusetts. In a time when partisanship and ideological rigidity reign supreme in Congress, it makes sense to send someone who relates to the common man, as Brown does, and someone who remains a fresh face in national politics.
Though Brown will face a daunting race with a revved up Democratic political machine, he remains the only competitive candidate that the Republicans can hope to win with.
Why Brown Should Run
When Brown won the late Ted Kennedy's seat, during the special election in January 2010, he was backed by the Tea Party and he looked to be a staunch GOP candidate.
After being in office for two years, Brown is recognized as one of the most moderate Republicans based on his voting record. He was also noted for being one of the most bipartisan members of Congress by reaching out to the Democrats and voting with them 53% of the time.
Brown has expressed pride in his record of being a independent Republican and bipartisan lawmaker on Capitol Hill, and has said he was the second-most bipartisan GOP member on the Hill by saying, "I’m proud of my record of bipartisanship, and I will continue to be an independent voice for Massachusetts who always puts progress ahead of partisanship."
In short, Brown has the qualities to pass muster to run in Massachusetts even though he's a Republican. By being a centrist, he can be a competitive candidate, whereas more party line Republicans would not do as well and don't have the name recognition that Brown has.
In a recent poll conducted by MassINC in December, Scott Brown was the leading contender, with a 58% favorability rating, to replace Kerry should he become the next Secretary of State. Attorney General Martha Coakley, his opponent during the 2010 special election, had a 48% favorability rating on the poll. Congressman Ed Markey, the Democratic front-runner, had a 24% favorability on the poll. Brown can win, but he'll face a uphill battle given his past mistakes.
The Tough Guy Approach
During the 2012 election, Brown engaged in an energetic, but largely civil race with Elizabeth Warren and he lost by seven points significant margin on Election Day. In the weeks following his rather surprising loss, many observers from with the Republican Party noted that Brown was too "nice" to Warren during the race.
Hence, it was not surprising that Brown came out swinging this time around.
Right after the New Year celebrations, Brown preemptively went after Markey, the presumptive Democratic candidate to replace Kerry. During an interview on the “Jim & Margery Show” on WTKK-FM, Brown said, "I’ll tell you what, [the Democrats are] making it awfully tempting [to run]. You got Ed Markey: Does he even live here any more?"
This was jab based on a similar accusation made by Markey's last GOP opponent for his House seat. Markey and his team have shot back by saying:
"Scott Brown has not yet announced that he is running for Senate, but he is already launching false, personal attacks from the sidelines. Ed Markey lives in Malden, and has lived there his entire life. He and his wife own their home in Malden. He is proud to come from and represent the values of the people of Malden. This campaign should be about what matters most to the people of Massachusetts: jobs, education, health care and the environment."
One of the problems noted in the Brown Campaign during 2012 was that he was very aggressive in his attacks on Elizabeth Warren and not doing enough to push his "independent" message across to the voters.
Though it would be more accurate to say that the grassroots campaigns by various groups supporting the Democrats were a vital components of Warren's evident victory over Brown.
Brown can be competitive — perhaps too competitive in launching attacks against his candidate when he's feeling desperate — but if he can organize a large scale campaign to send a image of a independent and bipartisan policymaker, Brown can win in the end.