The Massachusetts senate race is perhaps one of the best ways to see which way the wind is blowing when it comes to the 2012 election. Republican Senator Scott Brown won the special election seat as a Tea Party candidate despite the Democratic leanings of the state, and was seen as a hero by the conservative movement.
But in an obvious sign that the winds have changed since then, Brown has been moving further and further from his base, realizing that the only way to get reseated during a presidential year is to appeal beyond his rabid right supporters.
And that’s starting to make them angry.
It began with his capitulation on the budget agreement that would pass the short extension of the payroll tax break and unemployment benefits. He didn’t just vote for the bill, he was one of the Republican senators who vocally condemned House Republicans for not passing the legislation as well.
Now Brown is placing even more room between himself and his party. He’s approved President Barack Obama’s recess appointment of Richard Cordray as head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, despite most of the GOP’s rage at the president’s actions. And he’s condemning former Speaker of the House and GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s proposal to revamp the federal court systems to better allow politicians to oust judges that don’t rule the way they want them to.
None of these moves to the middle are surprising, with polling showing the race between himself and likely Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren either neck and neck, or with Warren in the lead. And unlike Brown, Warren’s support from her own base is growing at the same time that Brown is forsaking his. She’s garnering grassroots support, union support, and national support via campaign donations from across the country.
Including some from Wall Street, which Warren brushes off as unimportant. “‘I’m the person Wall Street is trying to keep out of this job,’ Warren said, noting that a majority of contributions she has received were $100 or less. ‘But everybody knows what they’re getting,’ she added of Wall Street.”
With the evolving nature of Brown’s positions, Warren’s popularity both locally and nationally, and which party controls the senate possibly riding in the balance, this will continue to be a race to watch.
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