Washington Bureau

05.15.14

Scott Brown Has A Cunning Plan

Former GOP Senator Scott Brown may have hurt his carefully cultivated political image by being caught lobbying against his opponent's legislation for electoral advantage.

Scott Brown may be too smart for his own good.

Brown, a former Massachusetts senator, trotted out an interesting tactic recently in his bid to win election in New Hampshire against incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. The Republican hopeful reportedly personally lobbied his former Senate colleagues against an energy efficiency bill introduced by Shaheen and Republican Rob Portman, according to Huffington Post. The bill didn’t receive the 60 votes necessary to avoid a filibuster after it got bogged down in a dispute over the Keystone pipeline. He did so in order to deny his opponent a legislative victory---not because of any opposition to the bipartisan legislation. The failure of the bill has already been touted by New Hampshire Republicans as evidence of Shaheen’s “stunningly ineffective legislative record.”

Interestingly, one of the three Republicans to vote for the energy efficiency bill was New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte. She said Thursday that Brown although  lobbied her on the bill but “I just did what I thought was best based on my state and voted the way I thought I should.”  In addition, it has provoked anger from the Teamsters, who viewed Brown’s lobbying against the bill as a betrayal of a promise that he made to the union. 

The Brown campaign has not responded to requests for comment from The Daily Beast. However, in a statement to Politico, a Brown spokesperson said, “Scott Brown was concerned that Senator Shaheen was refusing to allow a vote on the Keystone pipeline, a commonsense and bipartisan project that would immediately create thousands of jobs and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.”

Brown is facing an uphill battle in New Hampshire. If elected, Brown will follow in the footsteps of James Shields as the second person to win separate terms to the U.S. Senate from two completely different states, (although, unlike Shields, Brown has yet to challenge Abraham Lincoln to a duel). But this maneuver undermines his political calling card, the moderate and nonpartisan image that carried him to victory in the 2010 Massachusetts special election. Brown’s electoral success was due to the fact that voters didn’t view the centrist Republican in a barn jacket and pickup truck as a typical politician. If this alters that perception of Brown, it could do more damage in November than if a hundred bills sponsored by Shaheen become law.