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« Report: Dodd To Retire; Blumenthal Likely To Run | Blog Home Page | CT Sen Poll: With Dodd Out, Blumenthal A Strong Favorite »

Brown: I Won't Be A "Filibuster Senator"

Running as a Republican for Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat, Scott Brown has a tough needle to thread. To win, he must convince enough Democrats and independents to break from traditional voting habit in federal elections, while at the same time ensuring his Republican base stays energized and turns out for what will likely be a low-turnout race in two weeks.

To do the latter, Brown's campaign has been selling the idea that the state Senator from Wrentham would go to Washington as the "41st Vote," ensuring Democrats lose their short-lived supermajority in the upper chamber. But in an interview with RCP Tuesday afternoon Brown stressed his record of independence, saying he won't just be "a filibuster senator."

"I've never been anybody whose vote can be taken for granted," he said. "If it's a good piece of legislation that is a Democrat piece and is good for my state, and it makes sense for the people of the United States, then it's possible I'll support it. But for anyone to think that I'm going to be in lock-step with anybody, I think they're mistaken."

Brown says there's an opportunity in supporting his campaign to at least restore the possibility in Washington for "fair and open discussion," that by forcing Democrats to reach beyond their membership, you'd avoid problems like "Nebraska Sellouts and Louisiana Purchases."

"There's a reason why they manipulated the Senate succession legislation here in Massachusetts, why the president called Governor Patrick to send down an interim senator," he said. "They wanted that 60th vote. And people are upset about that. They're tired of the power grab and the lack of respect for the voters. And I offer the opportunity to send a message."

On the campaign trail, Brown says he's sensing that even Democrats are dissatisfied with the actions of Democrats in Washington and Beacon Hill, and suspects the race may be closer than the 9-point margin Rasmussen found in the first post-primary public survey. And for him, it wouldn't be enough to just perform better than expected.

"I don't know what's expected -- I expect to win," he said. "I know I'm the candidate, but I've won nine or 10 elections already. I've been the underdog before. I've been down this many points in elections before, and have won every election."

Brown, who describes himself as "independent, straight-talking, straight-shooting," makes it clear that he would be a 41st no vote on health care. He argues that the "one-size fits all" national plan would undermine reforms passed in the Bay State under fellow Republican Gov. Mitt Romney. Though he concedes the state plan still needs to be adjusted he says it's been largely successful, and that the federal government should instead be working to incentivize other states to make similar changes.

He also criticized a "flip-flop" on health care from his Democratic rival, Attorney General Martha Coakley, centered on abortion. Before the primary, she said she would oppose language in the House bill that would limit federal funding for abortion. She then said she would have supported the Senate bill even with similar language.

"One thing about Senator Kennedy -- he was a principled man. And when he didn't want something, he stood up for it," he said.

Another Kennedy, the former President, was featured in a recent ad from the Republican hopeful. The spot featured JFK delivering a speech in favor of income tax cuts; he then morphs into Brown making the same speech. Brown said the idea was to "shake things up" and bring some attention to his campaign, and that it's been a success.

"Different person, different era, different party, same message," he said. "It points out to the old-timer Democrats and independents, people who are more conservative when it comes to fiscal issues especially, that the Democrat Party in Massachusetts has fallen off when it comes to protecting the fiscal rights, the wallets and pocket books of every day, working-class Democrats, Republicans and independents. I think I achieved that goal and got people talking."

Should Brown manage to pull an upset on January 19, Brown said he'd go to Washington not owing any party or special interest a thing. Though he's received some support from the national party, the campaign has not seen the kind of outside attention that another special election did in New York last fall.

And if he does win, Brown would sure be an instant sensation beyond what Doug Hoffman might have been in the House. Asked if he'd outshine his daughter, a former American Idol contestant and Boston College basketball star, Brown concedes she's gotten a bit "jealous lately." In fact, both of his daughters have appeared in his ads as he cultivates a family-man image.

"For somebody whose mom was on welfare, my parents were divorced, ... coming from humble beginnings, I count my blessings every single second of my waking being that I have these wonderful opportunities," he said.