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Scott Brown: I’m Not A Tea Party Candidate

As the 2012 election draws near, Scott Brown is taking extra steps to differentiate himself from the predominant voices in his party:

WASHINGTON — Sen. Scott Brown’s upset victory in Massachusetts last year reverberated nationwide, early evidence of the power of the emerging Tea Party even in one of the most liberal states in the nation.

Now, as he prepares for a re-election battle next year to win a full term for the Senate seat long held by Edward Kennedy, Brown downplays the role the Tea Party played last time, expressing support for its fiscal conservatism but keeping the movement at arms’ length.

Is he a Tea Partier?

“No, I’m a Republican from Massachusetts,” Brown said in an interview with USA TODAY about his new book, Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances.

He calls himself “a Scott Brown Republican” — focused on jobs, the economy and national defense, and a fiscal hawk.

“I’m somebody who keeps an open mind on all the other issues,” he says, adding: “I’m not a social crusader.”

And, in the year he’s been in office, Brown has taken somewhat of an independent streak, much to the frustration of the Tea Party activists who saw something in him that clearly wasn’t there:

In office, Brown has voted with the Democrats on some big issues, including the financial regulatory overhaul and repeal of the “don’t ask don’t tell” policy on gays in the military.

“He’s generally positioned as an independent kind of Republican,” says Stuart Rothenberg, editor and publisher of the non-partisan Rothenberg Political Report. That’s sensible in a state where Republicans make up 11% of registered voters, Rothenberg says, adding that Brown has “a decent chance to be re-elected in a very difficult state.”

It won’t be easy by any means, of course. Brown won in 2010 in a special election where there were just a little more than 2,1 million votes cast. In the 2008 Presidential election, there were nearly 3 million votes cast. That difference in turnout, plus a badly run campaign by Martha Coakley,obviously helped Brown win. Next year, though, he’s going to have the uphill battle of running in a Presidential election year in state that will, most assuredly, vote heavily in Barack Obama’s favor. If he’s going to win, its going to be not because he ran as a Tea Party candidate, but because he ran as the kind of moderate, fiscally conservative, Republican that has been able to win in the past, and which had nearly disappeared from the party until his victory and the GOP pickups that occurred in the 2010 midterms. Any Republican who gets annoyed at him for taking the positions that he does is putting purity above politics and simply handing that Senate seat back to the Democrats.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brummagem Joe says:

    It’s called tacking back to the middle. All part of the re-election plan along with the Oprah Winfrey stuff. Glad to see you regard conservative principles as dispensable in the quest for election Doug.

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  2. DC Loser says:

    …but because he ran as the kind of moderate, fiscally conservative, Republican that has been able to win in the past, and which had nearly disappeared from the party…

    You mean like the old Mitt Romney back when he was governor of Massachusetts? The NEW Mitt wouldn’t recognize the old, or at least admit to it.

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  3. george says:

    > Glad to see you regard conservative principles as dispensable in the quest for election Doug.

    Though actually it would seem that Brown is probably more interested in conservative principles (at least any that a conservative from a few decades ago would acknowledge) than the Tea Party is … and arguably a large element of conservatism is holding to the past, including its own.

    Not that that will help him with the Tea Party, who don’t really want much to do with most traditional conservative principle.

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  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    ‘than the Tea Party is … and arguably a large element of conservatism is holding to the past, including its own.”

    I think the teapartiers would say they are the keepers of the conservative flame and most of the conservative commentariat and the official Republican party agree with them.

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  5. Ben says:

    Scott is definitely seeking to pounce on the middle here, and put as much distance between him and the far right as humanly possible. Because that’s the only possible way he gets re-elected. Massachusetts has elected Republicans before (although, usually they are more ok with a Republican as Governor than Senator), but make no mistake about it, the Democrats flushed that election down the toilet by making Coakley their nominee. I have several friends that are absolute party-line democrats that voted for Brown. Coakley was THAT bad of a candidate.

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  6. george says:

    > I think the teapartiers would say they are the keepers of the conservative flame and most of the conservative commentariat and the official Republican party agree with them.

    Sure, but they make a lot of claims. This one is as true as most of them (ie, not). Seriously, can you really see even Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, Rockerfeller, or even Nixon in the Tea Party?

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  7. legion says:

    I’m not saying tea partiers (and yes, I’m not using the derogatory ‘teabaggers’ here specifically) don’t have legitimate reasons to be ticked off about politics in general and Brown in particular, but they need to realize _they_ are the problem in this situation. _They_ were manipulated into electing him.

    Until TP’ers start looking at an _entire_ candidate – what he or she _does_, rather than what is _said_ (or what some financially-invested talking head or PAC tells them about the candidate), and stop blindly responding to every dog-whistle they hear, they’re going to get used like tools over, and over, and over, and over again. _That’s_ why I (and a lot of other people) don’t have a lot of respect for the movement.

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  8. Matt B says:

    Until TP’ers start looking at an _entire_ candidate – what he or she _does_, rather than what is _said_ (or what some financially-invested talking head or PAC tells them about the candidate), and stop blindly responding to every dog-whistle they hear, they’re going to get used like tools over, and over, and over, and over again.

    And this is why Conservative Inc claims that they, unlike Democrats, *don’t do* identity politics are so ridiculous. Brown was successful because he was a cypher and very good at *playing* to the crowd (see his arrival at Campaign stops in a pick-up truck).

    Again, both sides play identity politics — in fact, I’m not sure if you can have mass politics without identity being involved in there.

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  9. Herb says:

    “Any Republican who gets annoyed at him for taking the positions that he does is putting purity above politics and simply handing that Senate seat back to the Democrats.”

    Can’t have that!

    PS….not sure about Massachusetts Democrats, but I think this country needs a couple more Colorado Dems. Governor Hickenlooper’s gone through the budget and made some major cuts.

    If Tom Tancredo had won, he’d be focusing on an Arizona-style immigration bill right now.

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  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    “Eisenhower, Goldwater, Ford, Rockerfeller, or even Nixon in the Tea Party?”

    The problem is they’re all dead. What were dealing with is today’s conservative version of reality.

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  11. Brett says:

    As long as he takes a moderate stand on fiscal issues and a liberal one on social issues, he'll probably keep his job due to the power of incumbency.

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  12. george says:

    >The problem is they’re all dead. What were dealing with is today’s conservative version of reality.

    You mean today’s republicans, don’t you? Conservatism (which is actually international – there are conservative philosophies in most western countries) is independent of the republican party.

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