Even though MA just had one of the country’s most closely-watched and most expensive Senate races, we were spared the absolutely epic onslaught of third-party advertising that pummeled viewers and listeners in other states. Ask your friends and family in states like Ohio (I have) – they’ll tell you it was unbelievably awful. We really don’t know how good we had it by virtue of the facts that (a) MA wasn’t contested in the presidential race, and, more importantly, (b) Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren agreed to the “People’s Pledge,” which successfully kept outside groups off the airwaves.
Brown claims that the People’s Pledge was his idea, and whether or not that’s actually true, he absolutely deserves credit for agreeing to it, and for sticking to it even when he started slipping in the polls. A lot of people thought the Pledge wouldn’t hold up when the going got tough for one of the candidates, but it did. Even in running a generally lousy and ultimately failed campaign, Brown did accomplish one very important and positive thing by taking concrete and successful action to keep many millions of dollars of third-party attack ads out of Massachusetts in the last cycle.
If Brown decides to run again, but won’t agree to a similar pledge this time, it would look like an admission of weakness. Which, in fact, is exactly what it would be. He would be saying, in effect, “I realize now that I can’t win without the help of Karl Rove and the other guys who would have dumped gajillions of dollars into my race if only I had let them. So this time around, bring it on!”
But that only weakens Brown if the Democratic nominee does the right thing. So how about it, Ed, Mike, Steve, Ben, and whoever else might get in? Let’s have all the Democrats commit that they’ll sign on to a People’s Pledge – hopefully revised to eliminate the robocall and direct mail loopholes – if the GOP candidate will do the same. Massachusetts voters can be trusted to make their choice based on what the candidates themselves have to say. They don’t need Karl Rove & Co. (or, for that matter, outside groups that are more Dem-friendly) to tell them what to think.