John Tlumacki/Globe Staff
US Senator-elect Scott P. Brown said today he would not always be a reliable Republican vote, and would chart a new course in Washington.
Brown, in a 30-minute interview with the Globe, said he told Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and minority whip Jon Kyl last week, “With all due respect, I really don’t know a lot of you people, and you don’t know me. But maybe that’s good, because I’m going to vote how I want to vote.”
“They were cool,” Brown said. “They said, ‘OK, you can do whatever you want. You can probably do whatever you want right about now, Scott, so that’s OK.’ They understand. They understand all eyes are on me.”
Brown's declaration of independence came after his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, had charged during the campaign that he was marching "in lockstep with Washington Republicans." Brown's stunning upset victory over Coakley in the special election has sent a shock wave through American politics.
Brown said he has started building his staff, and has hired a few staffers of the late Edward M. Kennedy, including his well-known immigration liaison, Emily Winterson.
“It’s huge. It’s huge now, especially with Haiti. It’s huge,” Brown said. “It’s the number one issue that will affect my office, and I have the best person in place to handle it. And I’m so, just, overwhelmed. I almost cried when she said, yes, she’ll stay.”
“Kennedy had some of the best people in the country,” he added. “I’m honored to have some of them.”
Brown, who received 1,800 applications, said he has filed about a quarter of the 28 positions in Washington and is fully staffed in Boston with about eight people.
Brown also said he planned to focus on four areas as senator: the military, veterans affairs, education, and disability.
He wouldn’t name what his first piece of legislation would be, but said he would have signed onto a bill filed by US Senator Judd Gregg, a New Hampshire Republican. The bill, which failed this week, would have formed a bipartisan fiscal task force to try to tackle the burgeoning federal deficit.
“You have to have a sense of humor,” Brown said. “One of the things I think is wrong with Washington is they don’t kind of lighten up a little bit and have a laugh.”
That’s one of the things he pointed to that he liked about President Obama, referencing a portion of his State of the Union address last night.
“You could tell he was genuinely having fun,” he said.
But Brown’s ascendancy has been dramatic. Letters have poured into his office from around the world. Some of his supporters have mentioned creating a flag in his honor. His local breakfast spot now features the “Scott Brown Special.”
“There’s a lot of pressure to be everything to everybody,” Brown said. “I’m hopeful that they don’t put such high expectations that I let them down.”
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