Casting himself as a fiscal conservative and Washington outsider, Republican State Senator Scott Brown announced his candidacy for the US Senate today, embarking on an uphill race for the seat held by the late Edward M. Kennedy for nearly half a century.
(AP File Photo)
"I have always thought that being in government service is a privilege, not a right. This Senate seat doesn't belong to any one person or political party. It belongs to you, the people, and the people deserve a US senator who will always put your interests first," Brown said in a statement.
Brown, who noted that he turns 50 years old today, called for fiscal restraint and smaller government.
"In Washington, the politicians mistakenly believe that spending more money and growing the size of government is the answer. They are wrong. I believe that it is the private sector – small businesses and entrepreneurs – that will get our economy moving again. Government can and will help, but it also needs to know when to step out of the way," he said.
Brown, a Wrentham lawyer, made his announcement at the Omni Parker House Hotel in downtown Boston. He was flanked by supporters holding American flags, including his daughter, Ayla Brown, a Boston College basketball player who gained fame as a contestant on the "American Idol" TV show.
He said he had never voted for a tax increase in his 11 years on Beacon Hill. He pledged he would run a "clean and mean" campaign and promised he would not be beholden to special interests.
"My opponents are already pandering to special interests. That's not the way I operate," he said.
He acknowledged his underdog status, saying he would need to run an effective grass-roots campaign to buck the odds.
"You know I'm going to be outspent. You know I'm going to be out-organized. But I've faced those long odds and come out on top before," he said.
Brown became the most prominent Republican yet to announce a campaign. Others expressing interest in the race so far include Canton Selectman Bob Burr and frequent candidate Jack E. Robinson. Former US Attorney Michael Sullivan has been mentioned as a potential candidate.
The Republican nominee is likely to face a difficult joust with the Democratic nominee. The seat had been held since 1962 by Kennedy, the liberal lion of the Senate whose recent funeral sparked an outpouring of emotion in the state. Massachusetts has not elected a Republican senator since Edward Brooke's election in 1972. There are no Republicans in the state's congressional delegation and no Republicans holding statewide elected office in the traditionally Democratic-leaning state. And Republicans are vastly outnumbered in the state Legislature.
Frank Talty, a political science professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, said Brown's candidacy makes him the "instant front-runner" for the Republican nomination, and that he will likely bill himself as a needed alternative to the state's Democratic delegation in Washington D.C.
"It's apparent what he is going to do is cast the first year of Democratic control in Washington as a failure," Talty said. "I think that will have traction with voters, who aren't sure who to blame."
Brown will also make a "compelling argument that one-party govenrment isn't wise," Talty added.
Jody Dow, the Republican National Committee chairwoman for Massachusetts, said Brown is a strong candidate whom party leaders have long eyed as a prospect for statewide office.
"Hopefully, he can raise the money he needs," she said. "He's going to have to get statewide recognition as quickly as possible."
It's important for the Republican party to mount a credible challenge in a race that will be watched nationally, Dow said. At the same time, Brown could use the race as a springboard to future campaigns.
Joe Malone, the young executive director of the state GOP, waged a respectable campaign against Kennedy in 1988. Malone was able to win the state treasurer's office for two terms after that and eventually unsuccessfully campaigned for the Republican nomination for governor.
Brown made his announcement a day after Andrew Card, a key figure in the administration of former President George W. Bush, said he would not run.
Brown had said he would defer to Card. But Friday night, Card said in a statement that a political campaign would not be "in the best interest of my family" and threw his support behind Brown.
"In these critical times, I know that Massachusetts would be well served to have Senator Scott Brown as the Commonwealth's next United States Senator. He has my full support," Card said.
On the Democratic side, Martha Coakley, the state attorney general, has launched a campaign, and Congressmen Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston and Michael Capuano of Somerville have said they plan to run. The latter two have well over $1 million in their campaign accounts. Another House member, Salem Democrat John F. Tierney, is considering a run as well.
Earlier this week, Joseph P. Kennedy II, a former Congressman, said he would not seek the seat left vacant by the death of his uncle. US Representative Edward Markey said Friday he would not enter the race, saying his seniority in the House would better serve the state.
Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard, is one of just five Republicans in the 40-member Massachusetts Senate. In November, he won re-election handily, winning 59 percent of the vote in defeating Democratic candidate Sara Orozco.
Brown has fought against tax hikes and is best known for his advocacy for veterans and victims of sexual abuse. He was frequently mentioned as a potential lieutenant governor in 2006, when GOP gubernatorial candidate Kerry Healey was looking for a running partner.
A graduate of Wakefield High School, Tufts University, and Boston College Law School, Brown is married to veteran Boston television news reporter Gail Huff. The couple also have a second daughter, Arianna.
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