Who’s afraid of Scott Brown?

An interesting discussion. I think Scott Brown lost on the issues and will again, if he chooses to run. He is a deeply flawed candidate who ran an ugly, small-minded campaign. - promoted by Bob_Neer

I for one most definitely am not!  There has as we all know been speculation lately that Senator Kerry might get a cabinet appointment, either State or Defense.  It seems that Susan Rice may actually be the President’s preference for State, but one theory circulating is that the reason Republicans are being so hard on her is to force the appointment of John Kerry instead.  This would trigger a special election for which Scott Brown could run and win.

It bugs me no end that even so many Democrats I’ve heard from seem to be buying the Scott Brown hype.  Yes, he has said he would consider such a race.  Yes, he would be a formidable candidate.  However, we have beaten him once and I’m confident we’ve learned lessons from the last special election.  Massachusetts is still one of the bluest states in the union and I submit the Democratic Party is still the default position.  Even if we have a hotly contested primary we’ve had practice coming together.  John Walsh certainly knows what he is doing regarding getting out our message and vote.  We will have to work for it to be sure, but can we PLEASE stop sounding like a bunch of nervous nellies conceding an election that we don’t even know for sure yet will take place?!


36 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I agree but

    even after his nasty campaign, Scott Brown has high name recognition and high popularity, probably beyond any single candidate the Democrats could nominate. This year we had excellent turnout, but it’s not easy to match that when the President is not on the ballot.

    I think Scott Brown can be beaten again, but I don’t think it’s a cakewalk. The objection, I think, is that we don’t even have to worry about it, or work for it, if Kerry just stays put. My feeling is Brown doesn’t dream of running against Kerry in 2014.

  2. What would the GOP do?

    Certainly I don’t know what they’ve done historically in situations like this, but I have a hard time imagining the Republicans shooting themselves in the foot by voluntarily injecting uncertainty into what had previously been a pretty secure district/seat.
    Also, do we think we’ll get the same big turnout in urban areas for a special election that we got for the Obama/Warren election? At the risk of stereotyping or at least oversimplifying, I have to ask whether the same white suburban males who put Brown in the first time won’t be able to do it again absent the urban turnout?

  3. Brown should be taken seriously

    We don’t need to fear Scott Brown but need to take him seriously in the event of a special election for US Senate. A stand alone special in Massachusetts brings bodies and resources ( as it did in January 2010) and that makes it a wild card.

    The difference in 2013 is that Brown has a record now. That record cost him in November (along with a high Dem leaning turnout). And he still has a month to take positions / votes on taxes on the rich vs middle class tax cuts. How he votes could tell us if he is thinking of running again.

    As for white male vote. 49% Union members voted for Brown in 2010 special vs 61% who voted for Warren in November. I suspect the corner has been turned on that issue.

    • Good point, but what % of white males are union members?

      Perhaps rumors of the demise of unions have been exaggerated, but I’ve heard that membership has steadily declined since the 70′s, at least nationally. Not that I think this is in any way a positive development.

      • White male union members

        Overall union membership is down nationally but Mass has kept a higher overall percentage (18-20%) of the workforce. I would say white males are the majority in manufacturing and construction sectors, 50% in transportation and utilities. Service, health care and public sector union membership is far more diverse.

        Union households trend toward voting as a higher percentage of total turnout. Brown’s votes against extending federal unemployment benefits unless the rich got tax breaks hurt him badly with union members (and you would think with workers as a group). IMO union GOTV can add 3-4 points for a candidate. We can be the difference but cannot carry a campaign alone.

  4. Risks far outweigh the benefits

    I am, frankly, not enamored enough of John Kerry’s talents to believe that he will bring a particularly remarkable strength to US diplomacy as Secretary of State. By all accounts, Ms. Clinton has been extraordinary — I suspect that the next SoS will suffer by comparison whatever he or she does.

    Meanwhile, John Kerry has provided a predictable and stable moderately left-leaning Democratic voice and vote in the Senate. I have not been enthusiastic about him in the past, yet he is infinitely preferable to another period (no matter how short) of “Senator Scott Brown”.

    Scott Brown ran a vicious, deceitful, misogynistic, and thoroughly scummy campaign. Fortunately, he was up against an unusually strong Democratic candidate with great instincts, great experience and national visibility — all during a presidential election year with the stronger turnout that always happens then.

    I am not confident enough of our bench strength to relish the prospect of finding another candidate to beat Scott Brown in another special election. I don’t think the advantages we collectively gain from having John Kerry be Secretary of State come remotely close to balancing the enormous negative impact of having Scott Brown again be our junior senator.

    In my view, our Massachusetts Democratic Party is in terrible condition to face another election. We have allowed a cancer of corruption to grow and metastasize for decades — when combined with the equally devastating impact of decades of underfunding for required public service, I think we already have a very full plate without adding the burden of another special election campaign for a two year (or less) national office.

    We have more important things to do. We must increase taxes. We must increase our infrastructure spending. We must fund regulatory agencies that work. How many deaths in under-inspected pools, deaths from under-regulated pharmaceutical companies, and injuries and deaths from failing and decrepit highways and railways must we endure before we tackle the problem? How many thousands of career criminals must we release — and innocents must we imprison — before we acknowledge the depths of our culture of corruption?

    I don’t know about anybody else, but I would like John Kerry to remove himself from consideration for ANY change that would threaten his seat. I would like him to announce, NOW, his enthusiasm for continuing to serve Massachusetts as its senior senator by running for re-election in 2014.

    I would like to see our party focus our resources on putting Massachusetts back on a sustainable revenue footing while simultaneously excising the spreading cancer of corruption that threatens ALL of us.

    • No bench?

      I think that there are four Reps who could make legitimate runs:

      1. Richard Neal (Springfield)
      2. Jim McGovern (Worcester)
      3. Mike Capuano (Somerville)
      4. Bill Keating (South Shore)

      I didn’t list Tsongas (too new, low profile, and yes I think it would be tough to mobilize around another relatively short-political-history-having woman), JKennedy III (too new), Ed Markey (I think his seniority in the House will keep him there), Tierney (recent family trouble), or Lynch (the progressive parts of MA wouldn’t hustle). Doesn’t mean that they can’t run or that they can’t win… I just don’t think that they’re likely to emerge.

      I could imagine any of the four listed at the top of this post running and winning. I could also imagine a good Democrat moving upward from Beacon Hill to DC to fill the House of Rep seat.

      This post ignores other sources of Senate candidates — the executive branch. Mayors often make fine candidates, as do governors. Yes, I could very much imagine Deval Patrick running for that Senate seat, and winning.

      • bench vs. free agents

        While looking at our bench, I’ll remind everyone that the two statewide candidates that have generated the most enthusiasm recently didn’t come from the bench (that would be our Governor and Senator-Elect). I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I don’t see the sort of excitement behind anyone who has been mentioned that I saw for those two. Or for anyone (either bench or free agent) who ran in the Senate special last time.

        I’m not afraid of Scott Brown, but I do think the troops could use some time off and I don’t see the sort of candidate yet that would make a lot of people decide to put in the effort that would be necessary to win.

      • Don't cast Tsongas aside so readily.

        She’s brilliant, driven, and well connected.

        • I don't doubt any of that

          but she’s been an elected official for five years, and outside of the Boston media market. My point is that I don’t know that she has a whole lot of the built up advantage of being a Congressman that Congressmen Neal, McGovern, Capuano, and Keating seem to have. Those dudes were first elected to public office in 1978, 1997*, 1990, and 1977.

          Could Tsongas win? Sure. Could she be a great US Senator? You bet. Does she have the kind of advantage of US House incumbency that Mssrs Neal, McGovern, Capuano, and Keating have built up? Nope.

          So you’re right, my subject of my earlier post doesn’t agree with my thoughts. I refined my thoughts midstream. The four I listed are the ones which I think both have structural advantages within the Congressional delegation and don’t have a specific reason to *not* run. Tsongas doesn’t have any baggage to my knowledge… but doesn’t have the tenure or the Boston media market.

          * He was a Congressional staffer beginning in 1981, and has been part of MA Dem machine politics nearly that long.

          • She's my Rep

            I’d be hard-pressed to name something “brilliant” that she’s done since first taking office. I do remember her votes for the various PATRIOT Acts.

    • Same day registration

      As a side note, know what would really help the Democratic candidate for US Senate in a special election where there was no other race on the ballot? Same day registration. There’s no doubt in my mind that it would allow the Dems to drag out more voters, especially college kids and other young folks who move frequently.

      I know that same day registration is opposed by most City and Town Clerks. I know it’s more difficult. I know that it requires more resources (and hence, money) on election day. I also know that, relative to other costs, the amount of money we spend on elections is trivial, and adding a little bit more money to the budget to allow for more people to exercise their democratic right and civic duty would be well spent. That it happens to benefit my team — well, thems the breaks I guess.

    • Huh

      I liked the comment for the first paragraph. After that….eh.

      sabutai   @   Mon 3 Dec 7:51 PM
  5. My list of US Reps...

    …would include Tsongas and Markey as strong candidates, but would put Neal and Keating on a lower tier. I also strongly disagree with Tom that the state party is in terrible shape. Under John Walsh’s leadership we bucked the 2010 red tide and showed very strongly in 2012, gaining legislative seats in the state when one might of thought we had no place to go but down and held on even to one US House seat that reasonably made people nervous, and of course corrected the one big failure in the last couple of years. Kerry’s been doing foreign policy for years and in 2009 I think was a more obvious choice than Clinton. He also served in uniform, but has shown he knows when to say enough. He would be excellent at either State or Defense.

    • I didn't suggest that our campaign apparatus is in terrible shape

      I see the same party gains as you. It is the combination of our governance and our bench that concerns me. I also didn’t say we have no bench — I think any of the candidates that stomv offered could win. I suggest that as attractive as these candidates are, they are (a) sorely needed where they are and (b) vulnerable enough that it will require yet another full-court campaign press to assure victory.

      My concern is not just what happens if we lose, it is perhaps more strongly what happens to our state and nation while we are winning these interminable campaigns.

  6. I can't imagine doing another election right now, but

    Scott Brown was horrible to Vicki Kennedy, and he insulted Elizabeth Warren. So, if the GOP wants to run him again, for any office, I say, BRING HIM ON! It would be a lot of fun to defeat him again.

  7. Congressman Capuano

    Was an early Deval Patrick supporter and would be an interesting appointment if not prohibited from running as a condition of appointment. Congressman Capuano isn’t everybodies cup of tea. He is a Sometville street kid with a real blue collar background. He can be in your face aggressive and I like that. No nervous nelly Democrat. And he is effective behind the scenes.

    • What if he wins?

      This epitomizes my concern. I enthusiastically support Mike Capuano — I preferred (and voted for) him over Martha Coakley in the special election.

      The problem is — what if he wins? Then our Massachusetts congressional delegation loses “a Somerville street kid with a real blue collar background”. In the next 2-4 years, many of our most crucial battles will be fought in the house, where in my view we desperately need somebody who can be in your face aggressive, who is effective behind the scenes, and who is no Nervous-Nelly Democrat.

      I remain convinced that keeping John Kerry and Mike Capuano where they are is a better outcome for all of us than if John Kerry is moved to a cabinet position.

      • Aggressive? Effective? No Nervous-Nelly?

        I think the bench for Capuano’s seat has solid options there. That shouldn’t be a concern. I can think of a couple of good options.

        More important: Capuano was an underdog in 2010 and he struggled in that campaign connecting to women voters in particular, in part because of Coakley, but in part because of him. He also had a memorable moment to run over Coakley on Health Reform and then backtracked into nuance.

        I love that Capuano just really wants to be elected as himself. His style works for me. But if he wants to be the nominee and to beat Scott Brown, he will need to rethink how he campaigns.

      • I agree everyone should stay put

        but how do you figure the House is where it’s at? It seems Boehner holds all the cards there and, given gerrymandering and historic midterm election trends, it’s not too likely that changes in 2014. I don’t see Mike convincing too many GOP Reps. to vote against the boss.

        What am I missing?

        • What about the Peter Principle

          Get Menino to run for Capuano’s seat, then get Capuano to run for Senate. Menino’s machine would probably crush everyone else and at least we would have a solid Democratic vote in that seat in Congress, and in the Senate.

          AND we could get someone new at Boston City Hall, which is basically how I want to see any reshuffling of seats to include, a New Mayor in Boston, PLEASE.

          • Must Disagree

            I’m on the otherside with regard to Mayor Menino. I want him right there in the Mayor of Boston’s chair now and for 4 more years. Strong leadership, a commitment to jobs and economic development, pro-equal marriage and human rights and a real commitment to Boston neighborhoods.

            There would be a deep field, including some real blue collar candidates, for an open 8th CD if Congresssman Capuano moved up.

            • Must Disagree with your disagree.

              I would very much like to see someone else as Mayor of Boston (but not Steve Murphy). I personally believe that the buck stops with Menino on:

              1) The idiotic level 4 biolab with its Ebola and Smallpox experiments.
              2) The massive hole where Filene’s used to be in Downtown Crossing.
              3) The idiotic idea of moving City Hall to South Boston.
              4) The Zoning Board of Appeals granting appeals on every other idiotic request.

              And that is just for starters.

              • Fair enough

                We can agreed to disagree. From my perspective the Menino plus sides include:

                1). $1.5 billion in new construction projects set for 2013 – that’s immediate impact on jobs.
                2). The Menino Administration’s Boston Jobs Ploicy and Enforcement office. Works to ensure Boston residents, women and peope of color have access to public construction jobs funded by any ciy money.
                3). The Mayor’s program to educate residents on the Earned Income Tax Credit and to assist with filing returns that take full advantage of EITC.
                4). Neighborhood development / renewal such as the Starnd Theatre and MBTA Washington Street projects.

                And that’s just for starters. Should the Mayor decide not to run, I will be disappointed. While I won’t make a list of potential candidates I would like to see, I will say Steve Murphy would be on any list I eventually jot down.

              • About the South Boston waterfront

                3) The idiotic idea of moving City Hall to South Boston.

                I like that it’s located in the center of downtown now, but it’s such an eyesore. The real idiot move was designing that building, but that was architecture in 1968 for you. The city’s been pushing the South Boston waterfront for a while and I think he sees that as the downtown of tomorrow.

                Personally I like the old loft buildings over there, near Fort Point Channel and hate just about every other building they’ve put up, Joe Moakley Courthouse possibly excepted. The neighborhood also doesn’t feel anything like an urban neighborhood with all the open spaces and parking lots. If they fill in the lots it might seem more urban, but still very nondescript. I feel like the development of that area is a big opportunity that the city’s blowing, from an aesthetic and urban planning perspective.

                • The Penny and City Hall

                  Trivia: If you take a Penny and holding the Tails side up so that you are viewing the Lincoln Memorial, and spin the Penny 180 Degrees, you will have an image of Boston City Hall.

                  But I agree, the building looks like it belongs behind the Iron Curtain somewhere.

  8. It's not Brown. It's focused RNC money v GOTV.

    With one race to focus on, the Info War that GOP/FOX/Herald/Radio/Eagle Tribune etc could wage, funded by unlimited gray money, would make even a douchebag like Brown a formidable special election candidate.

    In a general election Brown would get his clock cleaned.

    • Scott Brown had lots of scratch this last time around

      and it was neutralized by Elizabeth Warren’s loot. She had national fundraising ability — something new candidates for USSenate likely won’t have. Of course, if you’re already in the House, you can roll that money over, giving you a bit of a head start.

      • A special election =

        the only Senate race in the country.

        So yes, a big bucks election, but one where both sides will be able to tap the deep pockets.

        • Insane priorities

          As we have this exchange, we are threatening an entire generation of aging baby-boomers with the utter dismantlement of the society that has brought so much prosperity to so many people for so long — a dismantling rationalized because “we can’t afford it”. Our nationwide transportation infrastructure is crumbling, required TRILLIONS of dollars JUST TO CATCH UP. We are the wealthiest nation in human history, yet millions of us are unemployed and HALF of us live one paycheck away from poverty.

          In the midst of all this wealth (held by a tiny handful of people), we have a paralyzed government unable face the challenges and opportunities before us because “we can’t afford it”. BOTH parties, Republican and Democrat, perpetuate the delusion that we have some sort of urgent debt crisis.

          We don’t.

          We just finished a “big bucks” election. I suggest that there is LONG LONG LIST of places where the millions or billions of dollars we’re contemplating in yet another big-bucks special election could be better spent.

          I think that funding and providing regulatory agencies who are able to stop private medical firms from killing people with shamefully filthy manufacturing processes are more important than yet another special election. I think that funding and providing state evidence labs that don’t taint the evidence of TENS OF THOUSANDS of criminal cases is more important than another special election. I think that fulfilling our commitments to extend the Green Line, to build a North/South rail connector, and modernizing our antiquated subways is far more important than another special election.

          I’m as political as most of us here — nevertheless, its time we spend a LOT more time governing and lot less time campaigning. They are different.

          • Agree entirely

            Our ability to govern depends on winning campaigns, but having an unnecessary extra campaign to wage just diverts attention and resources.

            Saw Warren Buffett on Jon Stewart last night saying all the wealth for 30 years has gone to a small group at the top, with the other 99% left to “fight over the scraps that fall from the table.” And it’s the sad truth. As a society we certainly have the money to fix this mess, we’ve just chosen to do things this way. We need to reverse that.

  9. Tom, we can multitask

    All of your points about governing are well and good, but it’s not as if state and federal legislating is going to grind to a halt while everyone waits to see who MA is going to elect as a new Senator.

    • We are already paying the price

      This morning’s Globe is reporting the threat of new cuts to local aid, blamed on the manufactured “fiscal cliff” crisis. I am of the opinion that if the political (and economic) capital that was used to elect Scott Brown, then elect Elizabeth Warren, while simultaneously electing Barack Obama had instead been used to put our state’s revenue stream on a sustainable footing, we would have much better governance than we have today.

      I want to live in a state where a restaurant or merchant who sells me “native Cod” at native Cod prices and then delivers frozen Pacific Cod faces near-certain economic and criminal penalties. Instead, we learn that(emphasis mine):

      “We’re too busy to deal with such silliness,” Janet Cooper, of Ken’s Steak House, said after several phone interviews during which she could not explain why the restaurant was still selling far less expensive Pacific cod as locally caught fish.

      Probation scandals, crumbling transportation infrastructure, people dying from incompetent or dismantled regulation, multiple failures of “privatized” (given away to the wealthy) formerly-public services, and a continuing steadfast refusal to raise taxes while our government dies of economic strangulation — sorry, Christopher, but I think the evidence is that our governance is abysmal and further distractions will only make it worse.

  10. Agree to disagree I guess

    I still don’t see the connection between the governance problems you cite and whether or not we have an election.

  11. If there must be a special election...

    Isn’t it better to have the special election here in the Bluest of Blue states as oppose to someplace like Missouri or West Virginia?

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