Scott Brown and the Ladies
Does Scott Brown have lady issues? It’s looking likely. The incumbent Senator recently announced that his wife, Gail Huff, will be taking a leave of absence from her part-time television reporter gig in D.C. and coming on full-time to help him with his campaign. Huff, who has been a reporter for more than 20 years, is a recognizable face in the Boston media market, and her ability to provide camera-ready sound bites will certainly be an asset to the campaign. Here’s the clip of her announcing her joining Brown on the trail:
Of course, one has to ask why Huff decided to make such a move, and that’s where things get interesting. Brown is widely regarded as a likable guy—it’s his calling card, along with his truck. But Warren keeps edging out Brown when it comes to women. In a June poll from Public Policy Polling, Warren had a higher favorability rating among women, with 53 percent of female voters favoring Warren and only 48 percent favoring Brown. When asked who they’d vote for, 49 percent of women said they’d cast a ballot for Warren, compared to 42 percent for Brown (alternatively, Brown pulled potential votes from 49 percent of men).
Brown has made a major play for female voters in the past few months, speaking out in support of allowing women in combat, supporting the extension of the Violence Against Women Act, and releasing a set of campaign ads showcasing his role as a husband and dad. But he also co-sponsored the Blunt Amendment, a bill that would have allowed employers to restrict distribution of birth control, and voted against a bill to calling for equal pay for women (Brown says he supports equal pay, but the said it was “the right cause but the wrong bill”).
Warren and Brown have been neck and neck in the polls for months, a fact that often spells trouble for incumbents, who generally want to be well above the 50 percent mark. But what complicates matters is Brown and Warren’s agreement not to allow outside advertising from third-party political groups. Typically, third party PAC ads do the attacking—they’re the black and white nasty spots with deep accusatory voice overs. But without them to do the talking, it’s up to Brown turn on the heat as the campaign progresses. And it may not play out well for women voters as the incumbent Senator tries to take down Warren, as he’s not been the smoothest on that front. Already, he made a poor showing when he browbeat Vicki Kennedy, insisting that she refrain from endorsing a candidate in the race before ultimately rejecting an offer to debate at the Kennedy Center. And his co-sponsorship of the Blunt Amendment is likely to come back to haunt him, as Jessica Valenti argued in these pages a few months ago.
“He comes across with an out-of-control jock mentality that I don’t think is going to resonate among women voters,” B.U. political historian Thomas Whalen tells me. “Particularly with professional and independent women voters.”
Is Huff here to help temper that? Sure looks like it.