Wednesday, January 20, 2010

So what is a Scott Brown Republican?

On the campaign trail, Scott Brown has sounded much like a member of the Senate Republican caucus, calling for tax and spending cuts, and opposing the Democrats’ health-care bill.

GOP candidate Scott Brown speaks to reporters after voting in the special election for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. But not all of his stances are clearly conservative, which is perhaps one key to understanding why he has done so well in Massachusetts where a majority of voters identify themselves as independents.

On social issues, the GOP candidate supports some abortion rights but opposes partial-birth abortion and believes parental consent should be required for minors seeking abortions. He also supported efforts to change the Massachusetts constitution to overturn the state’s same-sex marriage law.

An examination of his legislative interests shows his priorities range from veteran’s issues to the environment and crime. One bill he sponsored this session would establish a commission to study setting up a statewide registry of known drug dealers.

Another Brown bill is aimed at curbing auto emissions, a goal more commonly associated with Democrats. But the method was more libertarian: The bill would cut the amount of time vehicles are idling by requiring the state to remove traffic signs that prohibit drivers from turning on a red traffic light, absent any safety reason.

On military affairs, the Army National Guard Lieutenant Colonel takes a more standard Republican line. The state senator supports President Barack Obama’s troops surge in Afghanistan and opposes trying terror suspects in civilian court. He has also pushed a bill easing requirements for former military personnel seeking professional accreditations.

In a recent interview, state Sen. Brian A. Joyce, a Democrat, said Brown has been easy to work with. “Things are far less partisan in our Senate than they are, perhaps, in Washington,” he said. “There’s just not the rancor that we see in Washington.”

He added: “Scott I see as a moderate on most issues.”

Joyce said Brown was once considered a “sacrificial lamb” who might use the experience of running a presumably losing race to catapult himself into some other statewide office. “I guess he didn’t get the memo,” said Joyce, who is supporting Democratic candidate Martha Coakley, the state’s attorney general.

Brown has skirted questions about whether he’s a conservative, saying instead that he’s a “Scott Brown Republican” who won’t be told how to vote.
Past Republicans who’ve won statewide, such as former Governors Mitt Romney, Paul Cellucci and William Weld, followed a similar path, drawing independents and working-class Democrats by focusing on economic issues and playing down social issues such as abortion and gay rights.

With a weak economy and national anxiety over health care overhaul, Brown’s message has dovetailed with the party’s national agenda. He has campaigned on lower taxes and blasted Coakley for supporting domestic criminal trials for terrorists. And every time he talks of being the “41st” Republican senator, he reinforces the threat he poses to the Obama agenda

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