Scott Brown is the Most _________* Man In America
*Fill in the blank. He’ll be whoever you want him to be.
There are a few ways to interpret this. Because the GOP is so vastly outnumbered on Beacon Hill, “you can’t make much of a mark in the legislature,” says Republican Brian Lees, former minority leader in the state Senate. “You don’t see any major bill that has a Republican name on it.”
Democratic state Senator Mark Montigny, who sat next to Brown on the Senate floor, disagrees. Montigny, who likes Brown and is friendly with the man, says, “You can be a policy guru in the minority party. You can absolutely have an effect…but I didn’t see [Brown] being heavily involved in the policy stuff.” Adds a person close to the state’s Republican Party, “He wasn’t around enough to make a difference.”
Where he was, was out in the district. Brown’s constituency stretched across 11 towns within Norfolk, Bristol, and Middlesex counties. Working a crowd — that’s where Brown is most comfortable. “I remember the calendar he kept,” says Republican state Senator Bob Hedlund, meaning a schedule full of fundraisers, dinners, ribbon-cuttings. Hedlund couldn’t imagine the tedium of it all. Yet Greg Casey, Brown’s deputy chief of staff, says, “[Brown] loves retail politics. For most, it’s like pulling teeth. But he’s like, ‘Hey, we’re gonna go shake some hands!’ He would just keep doing it relentlessly.”
This, if you think about it, is as smart as any bit of policy wonkery. Whatever effect Brown the legislator could have had would have paled next to Brown the gladhanding politician: It’s always better to get out there, over and over, so that the people remember your name. This is how he lasted as one of only five Republicans in the Massachusetts Senate, and it’s how he got elected in January. Lucky for him, the race was short enough that he never had time to pull another Metco, a King Philip, a Cheryl Jacques, a….
HE’S GOT TWO YEARS until his next election — and who knows how many more nights like last evening’s lonely banishment at his new job. That was brutal. The Republicans kept offering amendments to the reconciled healthcare bill, and the Democrats kept rejecting them. On and on it went, until 3 a.m.
And still it is not done: As the Senate convenes this morning at 9:45 the amendments start up once more. The battle is no longer fierce. The senators are too tired for that. No one is doing anything more industrious between votes than sitting in his or her seat and blinking — except for Brown. He’s over there alone in his corner, with a Senate procedural book as thick as War and Peace open on his desk, writing letters longhand to constituents.
He cannot abide idleness. That’s part of the reason he’s a triathlete, and, 30 years after his enlistment, a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard. His former spokeswoman, Maria Coakley, used to call Brown on his cell phone to discuss upcoming events and he’d answer, panting into the receiver. He wanted to talk, but he wasn’t going to miss his morning run to do it.