Populism in the Mass. Senate Race

By Adam Reilly

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April 17, 2012

elizabeth warren fenway

This candidate's for you? Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is fighting to portray herself as the populist choice. (Facebook)


BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate race is becoming an all-out war over which candidate is out of touch.
 
When Republican Sen. Scott Brown mentions his likely Democrat opponent Elizabeth Warren, he refers to her as “professor” — a reminder that she teaches at Harvard and lives in Cambridge. It’s just one more example of Brown’s push to cast himself as an affable Everyman next to Warren’s out-of-touch elitist.
 
But unlike Martha Coakley, who lost to Brown in 2010, Warren seems unwilling to let Brown claim that mantle all for himself.
 
Brown recently panned Warren’s supporters as “Washington insiders, celebrities, elites, occupiers and leftists.” That charge made Warren bristle. "You know, I think Scott Brown should stop the name-calling," she said. "I’m very proud of everyone who’s become part of this campaign. There are people all across this commonwealth."
 
However, Warren also recognizes that Brown’s rhetoric is potent — and that she needs to fight back. Last week she made sure to hit Fenway’s 100th anniversary season home opener with her husband Bruce Mann — and to document their outing on Facebook.
 
Brown has played the Fenway card too, lauding the park in a recent radio ad: "Remember what Fenway looked like the first time you walked into the ballpark? There was that emerald-green grass, the white chalk lines perfectly laid out, and that giant green wall out in left field…."


The Massachusetts Democratic Party pounced on that radio ad, noting that Brown once urged the Sox to move to Foxborough.
 
If state Dems have Warren’s back, the Boston Herald has Brown’s. Recently the paper gave Brown’s visit to a local brewery an enthusiastic thumbs-up.
 
"This is him, I think, trying to show that he’s a regular guy, that voters in Massachusetts can approach him, that he’s a guy you want to get to know," reporter Hilary Chabot said in a Herald video.


Now the Brown campaign has offered voters a chance to win a very blue-collar day with the candidate: lunch at Kelly’s Roast Beef, bowling and a beer.

For her part, Warren is insisting that voters want more than cultural populism. "I think people will be affected by reality. Families are struggling. There are people across this Commonwealth who are working hard just to keep it together," she said.
 
Still, when Warren gets demonstrably down to earth — whether it’s visiting Fenway or making her own stop at Kelly’s — she’ll make sure to let us know. 

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