Scott Brown Playing Up Bipartisan Credentials

Scott Brown Playing Up Bipartisan Credentials

By Steve LeBlanc - January 3, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- Sen. Scott Brown may be the top Republican in Massachusetts, but ask the one-time tea party favorite about his political philosophy as he faces a tough re-election year and one word jumps out: bipartisan.

"I’m the most bipartisan senator in the delegation. And if not the most, one of the most bipartisan people in the entire Senate, and I take great pride in that," Brown said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

For Brown - who says one of his top priorities is to get the Senate "to work in a bipartisan and bicameral manner" - staking out ground in the political center is imperative in a state that overwhelmingly favors Democratic candidates.

Adding to the pressures facing him is the political threat from Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren in her race for the Democratic nomination for Brown’s Senate seat.

Warren, who helped set up a new consumer protection agency in 2010 under President Barack Obama, has captured the imagination of Democrats in Massachusetts and raised millions in campaign contributions, much of it from outside the state. Polls show Warren and Brown in a tight race.

Brown said Warren’s campaign isn’t pushing him to the center. He said he always promised to be an independent voice in the Senate and he’s worked hard to keep that promise.

"I’ve always been like that. The beauty of me being there is nobody helped me get elected, except the people of Massachusetts," Brown said.

"I didn’t have a big machine behind me last time. My average donation was $88. So when I went down there I could be that independent person," he added. "When they ask for my vote they have to earn it."

In contrast, he said, Warren will be "voting in lockstep" with the rest of the state’s Democratic delegation.

During the special election to fill the seat left vacant by the death of longtime Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy in 2009, many initially counted out Brown, then a back bench state senator.

But a late surge, aided by a flood of more than $14 million in campaign cash - much of it from out of state - helped propel him to victory over Democratic nominee Martha Coakley. At the time, he promised to be the "41st vote" against President Barack Obama’s health care bill.

But Brown also points to key votes he’s taken that are at odds with more conservative Republicans.

He supported the repeal of the military’s "don’t ask, don’t tell" policy that barred gay soldiers from serving openly. He backed a jobs bill that gave Obama and Capitol Hill Democrats a needed victory.

He also joined Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins of Maine to help push through a sweeping financial overhaul bill, and was among a handful of GOP senators to back the ratification of the New START nuclear arms treaty with Russia - another Obama priority.

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Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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