Two stories worth talking about this morning:
- The Globe’s Glen Johnson hypothesizes that the People’s Pledge – the groundbreaking agreement between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren that is designed to keep third-party advertising out of the Senate race by financially penalizing the campaign on whose behalf the ads run – could end up being a huge albatross around Scott Brown’s neck. Here’s the theory:
now, with recent polls showing Brown’s persona and likability as major advantages for him in his expected match-up with Warren, political strategists from both parties in the nation’s capital believe he may find himself boxed in as the campaign intensifies.
Brown almost certainly will have to attack Warren and her policies if he hopes to overcome the electoral advantage a Democratic candidate will enjoy in Massachusetts during a presidential election year, when the party’s turnout is traditionally high.
Without a third-party to do that dirty work for him, though, Brown may be forced to do it himself. And doing so could risk his key strategic advantage – his likability and the everyman persona he has crafted with his pickup truck, barncoat, and basketball playing…. Attacking Warren personally would also contradict Brown’s 2010 calls for a non-negative campaign.
I think this is correct – in fact, I made a very similar argument a week ago in arguing that the People’s Pledge was likely to turn out to be an advantage for Warren, despite earlier predictions to the contrary:
The big opportunity with a relatively unknown candidate like Warren is to define that candidate negatively before she gets a chance to define herself. That’s what third-party groups are really great at doing – witness the negative ad blitz from the Republican Governors Association that sent Tim Cahill into a tailspin from which he never recovered. But the candidates themselves – especially candidates like Scott Brown who depend heavily on their positive image – don’t want to be running negative ads against their opponents this early in the cycle (or, really, ever). So the People’s Pledge takes away a huge weapon from the Brown campaign.
Johnson says that he’s talked to strategists who are debating whether the Pledge will survive as the campaign kicks into high gear. That will be a fascinating one to watch. My sense is that the Warren campaign is committed to it – I suspect they see keeping Karl Rove & Co. out of the race as a huge boon to them that more than outweighs whatever modest boost they could get from the League of Conservation Voters and the like. Because the fact is, Karl Rove and the Koch brothers plays hardball, and most of the third-party groups on our side don’t. So, advantage Warren.
- This photograph:
is potentially a problem for the guy on the left, and the guy on the right. Because the guy in the middle is Brig. Gen. Joseph Carter, the head of the Massachusetts National Guard, who is now under investigation for an alleged rape almost 30 years ago. Carter says he’s being smeared in retaliation for trying to make changes in the way the Guard is run, and the story in today’s Globe does suggest an impressive level of dysfunction within the organization.
Obviously, I have no idea whether the allegations against Carter have any merit. But Scott Brown has made his position within the Guard a big part of his story, and Deval Patrick gave Carter the job. So if Carter goes down, it could pose a problem for either or both of the other guys in the photo. Keep your eye on this one as it unfolds.