Election 2012

Brown disappoints conservatives

Brown disappoints conservatives

The barn coated man, campaigning in his pickup truck, who stunned the political establishment by winning the Senate seat vacated by the death of Edward M. Kennedy Sr., lost his shot at a full term Nov. 6.

“Defeat is temporary,” said Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) to a packed ballroom at Boston’s Park Plaza Hotel. Brown lost to former Obama administration official and Harvard Law School Prof. Elizabeth Warren.

“When it seems that nothing is possible, the odds are stacked against you—let me tell you—I know anything is possible,” the senator said.

Brown said he wanted his supporters to be proud of their campaign and not take the defeat so hard.

But, its subtext was the signal to his followers that there is another campaign in the future, like the 2014 race for governor. It is all the more remarkable a fall from grace when one considers that Brown staffers openly discussed their boss as a future vice president and both Saturday Night Live and the Daily Show paid tribute to his celebrity status.

The campaign was close for many months and cost both campaigns more than $70 million.

“I have been polling this race since August,” said Spencer Kimball, the founder and CEO of Kimball Political Consulting, Springfield, Mass. “Brown had about a six-point lead going into the conventions after a summer of campaigning,” he said.

After the Democratic National Convention, where Warren gave a primetime address, Brown’s lead disappeared, he said. “We polled three days after the Democratic National Convention, and Brown’s lead had been reduced to one point,” he said.

“It stayed at one-point until their first debate, but by the middle of October, the lead had gone over to Warren,” he said.

In the days before Election Day, Kimball said he saw a tightening, with Brown taking a two-point lead into the final weekend.

Besides the pushback from his negative ads, Brown took hits from Warren’s constant reminding women voters that he had voted against a bill that made it easier for women to file a lawsuit if they do not receive equal pay for equal work, he said.

Rather than address the ad directly, Brown ran his own ads praising his support for abortion rights and women’s issues, he said. But, it was not enough.

For conservatives, who helped elect him, Brown was a heavy disappointment.

Brown defeated Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Martha M. Coakley Jan. 19, 2010 in the special election to replace Kennedy in a race that took on national importance and attention. At the time, President Barack Obama was pushing his Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act bill through Congress and with the death of Kennedy, the Democrats were one vote shy of the 60 votes needed to force a vote in the Senate if the Republicans attempted to stall proceedings. A member of Kennedy’s professional family, Paul G. Kirk Jr., was appointed to fill the seat, but it was temporary and only until a replacement could be elected.

Brown was behind Coakley by more than 40 points when the race began, but by the first week of January, Brown had closed the gap. In the three weeks before the election, Brown raised more than $5 million from conservatives outside the state and hundreds of volunteers from the National Rifle Association, Gun Owners of America and various Tea Party groups swamped the Bay State to help Brown close the deal.

While Coakley collected endorsement from the Kennedy family and the president flew in from Washington to campaign with her, Brown was endorsed by Sarah Palin and her 2008 running mate Sen. John McCain.

The Palin endorsement was a major boost to Brown’s effort, but on Election Night, when the former Alaska governor called to congratulate him, he would not take the call.

Brown was a critical Republican defection on fights to sustain the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compromise on the treatment of homosexuals in the military and the ratification of the START nuclear weapons treaty with Russia. In both cases, Brown had made assurances that he would not break party discipline.

When Democrats first proposed the massive Dodd-Frank bill that created the Consumer Protection Bureau, along with a bailout mechanism for large banks and a new financial services regulatory regime, Brown joined Republicans in blocking the bill.

However, after Democrats changed the bill to create special provisions for hedge fund typical of the ones that operate in Boston’s financial district, the senator broke with his party and helped Democrats pass the bill.

One of the officials leading the administration’s fight to pass Dodd-Frank and establish the Consumer Protection Bureau was Warren, who was already rumored to be Brown’s challenger.

In the debt ceiling battles on Capitol Hill that punctuated the president’s first term, Brown cooperated with the Democrats and voted with them to break a Republican filibuster.

Although he was supported by gun owners and advocates in his election, when the national concealed carry bill was debated in the House, Brown announced that if the bill ever came to the Senate, he would vote against it.

Another example of Brown gumming up the works was when he opposed efforts by McCain and Sen. Sen. Thomas A. Colburn (R-Okla.) to leverage the bankruptcy of the Postal Service in order to force the post office to reform its structure and expenditures.

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