A Senate run by Scott Brown would have been a little like Ground Hog Day, and I’m sure his decision not to run for John Kerry’s Senate seat was a relief for his ever cheerful, ever campaigning family. If he wants to cash in on his past success, the time to do it is now, not after another losing campaign.
Some criticize the way the he chose not to run ( after securing the party chairmanship for his former deputy finance director by implying it was necessary to help his Senate race). Other pundits lament the overall negative impact on the Bay State’s GOP. But I believe his decision not to run could actually breathe some life into the state Republican Party.
There will always be a few media types, most notably the Globe’s Scot Lehigh, who nostalgically favor former Governor Bill Weld. Lehigh likes that Weld is a “big personality,” but, as I have written, he may be a guy you’d like to have a beer with, but he’s something of a dilettante, bored easily and, if elected, much more apt to be a show horse than a work horse. Others seeking a glitz factor have mentioned Mitt Romney’s wife Ann or son Tagg.
But this is a party (political definition, not social event) that needs reenergizing from the ground up. There are several middle tier politicians for whom the special election now offers an opportunity to build positive visibility.
State Rep Dan Winslow of Norfolk is a highly intelligent, articulate Republican who could play a key role not just in party building but setting himself up nicely for another statewide office. Former Senator Richard Tisei, who ran a credible race against Congressman John Tierney in 2012, is another possibility. Former Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey could use the contest to repair her damaged image from her 2006 gubernatorial campaign. I’m sure there are others.
Unless the Democratic primary turns into a vitriolic donneybrook that spills over into the general election, it appears that this June Republicans may not regain a seat in the U.S. Senate. The problem for any Massachusetts GOP candidate running for federal office now is that the race will be instantly nationalized and the candidate viewed as an enabler of Mitch McConnell’s agenda.
But, even in losing, their candidates could benefit as individuals from the visibility that comes with a statewide race, and the party could gain by the level of activity and engagement of legitimate candidates. It would also help if the brand of Republican politics here were the moderate type (that’s how we got Scott Brown originally) we had in the days of Frank Sargent, John Volpe, Ed Brooke, and even the first iteration of Mitt Romney.
Were that to happen, we might actually take the first step toward a two-party system from which Massachusetts would surely benefit.
I welcome your comments in the section below.