scott brown

Are you ready for yet another U.S. Senate election in Mass.?

December 13th, 2012 at 4:14 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Will Massachusetts have six U.S. Senate elections in the space of eight years?

It certainly looks possible after Thursday afternoon’s announcement that Susan Rice is withdrawing from consideration as President Obama’s next secretary of state, opening the door for the president to appoint Mass. U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

If Kerry gets the job, Massachusetts could have a special election as soon as June to fill Kerry’s seat for the reminder of his term, which ends in January 2015. Potential candidates include a long list of Democrats – though not Congressman-elect Joe Kennedy III – and Republicans Scott Brown or Bill Weld.

A special election next year would be the fifth time Massachusetts residents have gone to the polls to choose a U.S. senator since November 2006.

Bay State voters re-elected Ted Kennedy for the final time that year, then re-elected Kerry in 2008, elected Scott Brown to finish Kennedy’s term in 2010, and replaced Brown with Elizabeth Warren last month. And special election or not, they will vote for U.S. senator again in 2014 when Kerry’s current term ends.

​(photo: AP/Gerald Herbert)

Cicilline, Newport palace make cameos in other campaign ads

September 21st, 2012 at 9:42 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

There are an estimated 2 zillion campaign commercials on the airwaves in Rhode Island right now – and yet you’re still not seeing all the ones that are featuring Rhode Island this election season.

First we have Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown discussing how he helped pass a law to curb insider trading by members of Congress, earning a “Good job!” from President Obama at the signing ceremony. Congressman Cicilline was at that ceremony, too – you can see him near Obama and Brown around 0:19:

And here’s a new Obama ad that uses Newport’s historic mansion The Waves as a stand-in for the millionaires whose taxes he wants to raise (at 0:30 or so). One sharp viewer told me the late Sen. Claiborne Pell’s home can be seen to the left of The Waves (the little shingled cottage) – Pell was a millionaire, too:

Scott Brown coming to RI in July to raise money for Doherty

June 14th, 2012 at 9:26 am by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

Brendan Doherty is getting some high-profile help with his congressional campaign.

U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, the Massachusetts Republican who shocked the political world in 2010 when he won the late Ted Kennedy’s old seat, will be in Rhode Island next month to headline a Doherty fundraiser, the campaign said.

Brown will be the special guest at a July 2 event to raise money for Doherty at the Metacomet Country Club in East Providence. Suggested contributions start at $100 and go up to $2,500. The Reggie Centracchio Quintet will provide the music.

Doherty had a strong fundraising year in 2011 after entering the race to unseat freshman Democrat David Cicilline before he lost ground in the first quarter of 2012. As of March 31, Cicilline had $701,249 on hand while Doherty had $559,645. Doherty doesn’t face a primary challenger, unlike Cicilline, and the Republican had a 15-point lead in a February WPRI 12 poll.

Brown, who lives in nearby Wrentham and has expressed a fondness for Federal Hill cuisine, is locked in his own tight U.S. Senate reelection race in Massachusetts against Democrat Elizabeth Warren. The Real Clear Politics polling average gives him a 0.3-point lead over the challenger.

• Related: Chart: The campaign finances of Cicilline, Doherty and Gemma (May 2)

Patrick Kennedy not happy Scott Brown is invoking his dad

February 26th, 2012 at 8:52 pm by under Nesi's Notes, On the Main Site

The New York Times reports on Rhode Island’s former congressman entering the fray in Massachusetts:

Patrick J. Kennedy lashed out at Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts on Sunday, asking him to stop invoking the name of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Kennedy’s father, in a radio advertisement about insurance coverage for contraceptives. …

In a letter that the Brown campaign released on Sunday, Patrick Kennedy, a Democrat like his father, wrote: “Providing health care to every American was the work of my father’s life. The Blunt Amendment you are supporting is an attack on that cause.” …

He added, “You are entitled to your own opinions, of course, but I ask that, moving forward, you do not confuse my father’s positions with your own.”

In a response circulated by the Brown campaign, Mr. Brown wrote: “I’d like to think your dad would have been working with me to find an accommodation that all sides found satisfactory. One thing I know he would not do is demagogue the issue, or inflame passions against the church, as Elizabeth Warren has done.”

GOP state representative in Mass. holds beer pong fundraiser

September 28th, 2011 at 2:01 pm by under Nesi's Notes

Beer pong – a.k.a. Beirut – is the sport of champions, if you define “champions” as “intoxicated, sloppy undergraduates.” And now it’s also helping politicians collect cash from the younger set, the Taunton Daily Gazette reports:

Outfitted with four regulation-length beer pong tables, Medfield Rep. Dan Winslow asked constituents to try on a new side of politics Tuesday at his Beer Pong and Politics fundraiser.

In the first-ever event of its kind in Massachusetts, Winslow called upon the group marketing website to sell discounted tickets to the event, a move he said was aimed at drawing a younger crowd. …

In the alley at Boston’s Battery Park Bar and Lounge Tuesday, over 80 Winslow supporters lined up for their turn at the beer pong table. …

Winslow’s version was a “game of skill” using water instead of beer. …

The unusual political event not only drew the attention of several local media outlets, it created a buzz across the country, according to president Bill Yucatonis.

Winslow is no gadfly – he’s one of the highest-profile Republicans in Massachusetts, having served as a senior aide to Gov. Mitt Romney and then chief legal counsel during U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s victorious upset campaign last year. CommonWealth magazine ran a lengthy profile of Winslow in April that said he is “shaking up the State House with a flurry of policy proposals and a scathing critique of the Beacon Hill status quo.”

The more important question: Who will be the first Rhode Island politician to hold a beer pong fundraiser? I say freshman state Sen. Nick Kettle should plan one for Oct. 18, to mark the day he turns 21.

Mass. Senate race heats up as Elizabeth Warren eyes Brown

August 12th, 2011 at 10:24 am by under Nesi's Notes

Elizabeth Warren, right, with President Obama

So far, Rhode Island’s marquee 2012 race looks like it’s going to be Cicilline-Doherty (or Cicilline-Loughlin, though that would be a rerun). Across the border in Massachusetts, Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is running for a full term after his surprise victory last year, and the Wrentham resident is going to be tough to beat.

But Democrats aren’t giving up on reclaiming Ted Kennedy’s old seat, and they think Harvard Law’s Elizabeth Warren may be their best bet, The Washington Post reports:

The high-profile consumer advocate just stepped down from her post as special adviser to the president in charge of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. …

A Massachusetts Democrat who is assisting Warren confirmed that the former administration official will be spending the next few weeks listening to residents across the state. She’ll make a decision on her future plans after Labor Day. …

Doug Rubin and Kyle Sullivan — the former chief of staff and former communications director, respectively, for Gov. Deval Patrick (D) — are assisting Warren in her decision-making. …

Warren is considered by many to be the best candidate to take on Brown, although there are a number of less well-known challengers already in the Senate primary, including Newton Mayor Setti Warren, CityYear founder Alan Khazei and activist Bob Massie.

New fundraising figures put Whitehouse in good shape

February 2nd, 2011 at 1:53 pm by under General Talk

U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse finished last year with $723,000 in his campaign account as he prepares for what could be a competitive reelection fight in 2012.

Whitehouse’s war chest grew by $147,327 between Sept. 30 and Dec. 31, according to a new Federal Election Commission filing obtained by

Cook Political Report senior editor Jennifer Duffy – who’s also a Rhode Island native – told me Whitehouse is in decent shape gearing up for his first campaign as an incumbent senator.

“He’s doing pretty well,” Duffy said. “This is a pretty strong starting number. … The ball has started rolling, and this is a healthy start.” Rhode Island’s small size also makes it a relatively low-cost state in which to run.

The numbers do not include the donations Whitehouse received at a major fundraiser he held Sunday night at the Providence Biltmore, which was headlined by his colleague Jack Reed and attracted a who’s who of local politicians.

The big question now is which Republican will step forward to challenge Whitehouse next year. All eyes are on recently departed Gov. Donald Carcieri, who’s weighing whether to jump into the race. A decision by Carcieri – and then if he opts out, the eventual Republican nominee – is likely to come by the spring.

Since Whitehouse took office in January 2007, he has raised $1.71 million and spent slightly more than that – $1.78 million. But much of that money went toward paying off leftover expenses from his original Senate campaign.

Whitehouse’s donations mainly have come from political action committees and individuals writing big checks; he’s only raised $26,522 from those who gave small amounts of $200 or less, Duffy said.

Asked how much Whitehouse and his opponent are likely to spend next year, Duffy said: “Let’s see who runs.”

Jack Reed, who is not up for reelection until 2014, continues to maintain a huge war chest – it totaled $2.4 million as of Dec. 31. “That’s what I call intimidating,” Duffy said. Reed’s financial advantage and popularity here in Rhode Island make him about as safe as a politician can be.

The state’s two congressmen closed out 2010 with amounts that Duffy said “make sense” considering the pair just finished a campaign. Congressman Jim Langevin had $177,927 and David Cicilline had $37,562.

In fact, both of Rhode Island’s House members had more money than their colleagues who represent Bristol County, Mass.: Congressman Jim McGovern had $26,137 and Barney Frank had just $21,038 after a hard-fought race. The state’s junior senator, Scott Brown, had an astonishing $7.2 million in his campaign account at the end of 2010.

The Washington Post has a good overview of how much money the 33 senators up next year have on hand if you’d like to read more.

Scott Brown’s vulnerability? Try four out of 10

December 15th, 2010 at 2:01 pm by under General Talk

National Journal’s Hotline On Call is the latest Washington publication to size up Scott Brown’s chances of retaining his U.S. Senate seat in two years. There’s not much new in there for Brown-watchers, but it’s a solid overview of the situation. I did like this quote:

“On a scale of one to 10, where one is not vulnerable and 10 is very vulnerable,” said veteran Massachusetts Democratic consultant and Boston Globe columnist Dan Payne, “He’s probably about a four.”

That sounds about right to me. I also thought this was a good point:

Republicans point to the virtually non-existent GOP infrastructure in Massachusetts as an obstacle Brown will have to overcome.

“A big problem for Brown is the wipe out the Republican Party has suffered here,” said Massachusetts Republican strategist Todd Domke. “The party infrastructure hasn’t gotten much stronger.”

That’s for sure, and the same problem afflicts Republicans here in Rhode Island, too.

Scott Brown: ‘Dead man walking’ or Mr. Popular?

December 3rd, 2010 at 4:26 pm by under News and Politics

Last month, Politico wondered whether U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., might be a “dead man walking” after the Bay State’s Democratic Party managed to buck the national Republican tide and win every statewide race in November.

Brown is up for re-election in 2012 because he was elected to finish out the late Ted Kennedy’s final term, and he’s the party’s best target for picking up a U.S. Senate seat in what will otherwise be a tough year for them.

The list of Democrats said to be eying the race is long and star-studded. City Year founder Alan Khazei, who was defeated by Martha Coakley in the Democratic primary to succeed Kennedy, seems quite likely to throw his hat into the ring. U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano, Stephen Lynch and Ed Markey are all thought to be considering it. Two mayors – Newton’s Setti Warren and Fall River’s Will Flanagan – may be in there. Newly reelected Gov. Deval Patrick says he’s not interested.

And then there are the Kennedys. Vicki Reggie Kennedy, Ted’s widow, is suddenly popping up in the rumor mill this week, and former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy (son of Bobby and Ethel, for those keeping score at home) is always mentioned, too.’s The Fix had a good future-of-the-Kennedys rundown earlier this week.

But how vulnerable is Scott Brown actually going to be in two years?

The election is a long ways away, but a new Public Policy Polling survey should put a smile on Brown’s face for now. His approval rating among all voters stands at 53%, compared with a disapproval rating of only 29%, and he’s doing even better with independents. And he leads all his potential opponents by at least seven points. Here are the matchups run by PPP, ordered by the Democrats’ relative strength:

  • Brown 49% / Deval Patrick 42%
  • Brown 48% / Vicki Kennedy 41%
  • Brown 49% / Ed Markey 39%
  • Brown 52% / Mike Capuano 36%
  • Brown 49% / Stephen Lynch 30%

Brown is proving to be pretty canny about when to break with national Republicans and when to stick with them – coming out for repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell today, for instance, while siding with the G.O.P. leadership on extending the Bush tax cuts for families making more than $250,000. He appears to be following the model of Maine’s two Republican senators, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, who have held onto their popularity in a blue state. On the other hand, Obama will be at the top of the ticket in 2012, which should draw more Democrats to the polls.

“My feeling for a while has been that Republicans have ceded too much of New England almost by default in recent years,” The Weekly Standard’s Jay Cost wrote after looking at the same polling. “Democrats dominate there, but in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island a plurality of voters are registered as independents. That suggests an opening for Republicans that, so far, they have generally been unable to benefit from.”

If you see Brown on Federal Hill this weekend, ask him what he thinks. (And see what he’s eating.)

‘I eat in Federal Hill,’ Scott Brown tells Jack Reed

December 1st, 2010 at 11:07 am by under General Talk

Neighboring U.S. Sens. Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Scott Brown, R-Mass., had an impassioned exchange on the Senate floor yesterday during the debate over continuing extended jobless benefits, which expired at midnight.

Reed, who has been working on the unemployment issue for a long time, took the floor and called on his G.O.P. colleagues to drop their filibuster of the extension. “I find it difficult to understand how some of my colleagues on the other side would object to an extension of unemployment benefits for a year that are not offset but at the same time insist that we provide tax cuts to the very richest Americans, without paying for them,” he said.

“In my State of Rhode Island, people are in a very serious situation,” Reed said. “They are struggling to stay in their homes, to educate their children, to deal with the challenges of everyday life. They have worked hard and long all of their lives, and now they are finding it difficult to find a job.”

As Reed finished his statement, Brown spoke up to take the floor. “I am not the new person here anymore. Somebody came in yesterday,” he began, before proceeding with a lengthy and apparently unscripted critique of Congress for its failure to act on various initiatives.

“I figured that when we came back, after the message was sent [in the election], we would get it loudly and clearly – big change over in the House,” he said. “Here we are. We are going to get right back to the economy. But what do we do? We do food safety. Are you kidding me? People deserve better. The people who are unemployed deserve better.”

Eventually, Brown proposed offsetting the cost of the extended benefits by using “unobligated discretionary funding” – basically, money that hasn’t been allocated yet – to cover it. Reed responded by pointing out that Republicans had filibustered earlier attempts to extend benefits and again pointed out that nobody wants to pay for extending the Bush tax cuts.

My favorite part, though, was when Brown – a Wrentham resident – said in an aside to Reed: “I know Rhode Island well; I eat in Federal Hill regularly.” I wonder which restaurant is his favorite? Anybody ever run into him?

Speaking of Scott Brown, two other items about him caught my attention recently. First, his recent bipartisan proposal for changes to health reform won plaudits from The Washington Post’s liberal policy blogger Ezra Klein; and second, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch gave an interview to WBZ-TV’s Jon Keller that seemed like an early roll-out of his message if he challenges Brown next year.

I’ve posted the two senators’ full back-and-forth – it’s long – after the jump, for those who want to dive in.


As 2012 looms, is Scott Brown ‘a dead man walking’?

November 10th, 2010 at 1:30 pm by under General Talk

At this time a year ago, Scott Brown was still just a good-looking state senator from Wrentham.

Three months later, the Republican was the toast of the political world after he won a shock victory in the special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat. His easy win over Attorney General Martha Coakley energized the G.O.P. and shocked Democrats from coast to coast. A Boston Globe poll last June found that Brown was the most popular politician in Massachusetts.

But unlike most newly elected senators, Brown doesn’t get to wait six years before facing voters once again. That’s because Brown won an election to finish out Kennedy’s last term, which ends in January 2013 – so he is up for reelection again in November 2012.

With Barack Obama on the ballot, that’s not going to be an easy year for a Republican to win in a blue state – especially considering the G.O.P. couldn’t even win any statewide races there last week in what was otherwise a banner year for their party.

Politico’s Alexander Burns has more in a story published today that asks whether Brown is “a dead man walking”:

He’s one of just 10 Republicans up for reelection next cycle – compared with 23 Democrats – and the only first-termer running in a blue state. …

Several Democrats who lost in the primary last time around are considering the race against Brown, including Rep. Michael Capuano and City Year founder Alan Khazei. Some in the party still hope Vicki Kennedy will consider the race, and even longtime Boston Mayor Tom Menino was recently floated as a candidate online. …

What Brown has going for him is this that he has consistently posted high favorability ratings, unlike Baker and other losing Republicans this year. He’s running as the incumbent, while Democrats will be fighting each other through a late, September primary. His trips this year as a campaign surrogate have taken him to essential fundraising destinations from Chicago to Burbank, and he had nearly $7 million stockpiled at the end of September.