Jan. 20, 2012
WORCESTER, Mass. — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown's re-election run, long-expected, is official after Brown kicked off his campaign at Worcester's Mechanic's Hall on Thursday night — exactly two years to the day of his stunning upset over Democrat Martha Coakley for the seat long held by Edward Kennedy.
Standing on a podium next to his wife and daughters, the Massachusetts Republican cast himself as a bipartisan bridge builder in a divided Congress.
“I’ve told the voters I wouldn’t just be another loud angry partisan because Washington has too many of those already. I promised to be an independent voice for you, because Washington has too few of those serving right now. I don’t worry about the party line. I don’t get caught up in petty fights. I always remember why I am there and who sent me,” Brown said.
He took some swipes at the likely Democratic nominee, Harvard professor and consumer watchdog Elizabeth Warren, positioning her as an ideologue and a firebrand who would divide, not unite.
“She talks about how she’s a ‘rock thrower’ and rather than compromise she prefers to leave 'blood and teeth' on the floor. That sure doesn’t sound like the kind of compromise and progress this country needs right now. I’m a bridge builder, not a rock thrower,” Brown said.
He also struck a populist tone, calling himself an Everyman.
“Across this state are middle-class parents with kids in college and a lot of bills to pay," Brown said. "These are the same men and women who turned a long shot regular guy into their US senator two years ago.”
That populist appealed to Ashland resident Terry Hendricks, a Brown supporter who turned out for the speech.
"If you think about the way Scott talks, the way he carries himself, he’s not as polished as some other senators or congressmen for example, and that’s another reason to think, 'He’s just like us,'" Hendricks said.
Boston University political communications professor Tobe Berkovitz says this election could be a difficult battle for the candidate. Brown’s win in 2010 was the result of a perfect storm of factors. “He won the last time because all the voter planets lined up for him,” Berkovitz said.
Brown tapped into the populist anger of the Tea Party movement. He was blessed with an opponent who seemed stiff and aloof. He got a lot of help from the national Republican Party and the Tea Party Express in the final weeks of the election, which enabled him to saturate the airwaves with ads.
And last time around, it was a special election. 2.2 million voters turned out for the Brown/Coakley race. But on November 6, at least 700,000 more voters are expected. Analysts say the majority of them will be Democrats or Democratic-leaning. People who will come out for a presidentioal election but aren’t motivated enough to vote in special elections.
In other words, Berkovitz says Brown has his work cut out for him.
"It’s going to be a lot tougher. This time, the Democrats are much more prepared," Berkovitz said.
But in his speech last night , Brown sounded hopeful.
"I wouldn’t be here at all if I worried about long odds. Once again, I’m going to run hard and keep my focus," Brown said. "I’m going to campaign on the issues... not take a single vote for granted… and speak directly to the poeople of our great state.”
SPOTLIGHT ON THE MASS. SENATE RACE