Scott Brown, per diems and the big picture

Jessica Van Sack’s article in today’s Boston Herald questions Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown’s consistency in holding himself up as the candidate of fiscal responsibility and taking over $3500 in per diems in 2009 in addition to his state Senate salary of $80,000. As I told her in the piece, it might not matter in good times, but, in a recession, we regular working stiffs get ticked off about things. Hey, no one pays us to commute to our regular job!

It’s all a matter of context. Some legislators refuse to take their per diems. Some turn down their pay raises or turn them over to charity. Scott Brown told Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on this morning’s WTKK Senate debate that he turned his pay raise over to 12 food pantries. As he pockets the per diems, I am more interested in how he votes on funding for the homeless and disabled.

Let’s face it. With 600,000 voters participating in the Democratic primary and 160,000 taking a Republican ballot, the odds on the 19th are reminiscent of the Kennedy/Malone race in 1990. Is Scott Brown taking a page out of Malone’s play book: be the GOP sacrificial lamb; stay nice in the campaign; have voters reward you when you run for statewide office? Can you say Brown for Governor in 2014?

That said, Laura Crimaldi has posted a piece on the Herald web that has Brown within striking distance of Democrat Attorney General Martha Coakley. The Globe has a similar posting and notes that, according to the Rasmussen poll, the margin is just two points among voters who say they absolutely positively will vote in the primary.

Is it possible that Massachusetts voters would replace Ted Kennedy with a Republican? It doesn’t seem possible that voters in the Bay State, the first to provide nearly universal access to health insurance, would send to Washington someone who will deny the Senate the crucial 60th vote on health reform!

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