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Posted at 7:15 AM ET, 02/17/2011

Is Scott Brown beatable?

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza

Massachusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown's new book is set to release on Monday, and in it are details of sexual abuse a young Brown suffered at the hands of camp counselor.

The bombshell revelation -- combined with a "60 Minutes" profile set to air Sunday -- reinsert Brown into the national political dialogue at a key juncture for him and will undoubtedly add to the political intrigue surrounding the senator.

The book is titled "Against All Odds." But with Brown riding high in his home state and nary a Democrat yet running against him in 2012, you've got to wonder: is Brown an odds-on favorite for reelection?

It's certainly a question that ambitious Massachusetts Democrats are asking. There are a lot of people who have been waiting forever to run for higher office in the Bay State -- and many of them still kicking themselves for taking a pass on running in the 2010 special election that Brown won or, perhaps more accurately, Martha Coakley lost.

And yet, not one of them have jumped at the chance to challenge Brown yet. And it's all quiet on the Eastern Front.

Brown is the most popular politician in the state, operatives acknowledge, and potential candidates like Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch have been unusually quiet in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, a few names from the ranks of mayors and outside the political world have crept into the conversation. To be clear, these are backup options.

"Among the 'A' players, I haven't heard anybody sniffing around," said a state Democratic consultant.

The Scott Brown story -- from the semi-nude Cosmopolitan magazine photo shoot to the trademark truck to the new revelations, which also include Brown admitting to being a petty criminal in his youth -- just keeps getting more interesting.

The regular-guy image that Brown has cultivated is priceless, and it's only being reinforced.

Brown, it seems, just keeps getting more popular. And even as a Republican in the nation's bluest state, he is looking more and more like a favorite in 2012.

Boston Mayor Thomas Menino mused last month that "there's nobody that can beat" Brown. And while they won't go that far, many Massachusetts Democrats acknowledge privately that Brown will be tougher to beat than a cursory glance at the state's demographics would suggest.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking, and Brown's war chest keeps getting bigger.

He's already got $7 million on hand, and he said recently that he aims to raise $25 million for the reelection campaign. If he can do it, that's a scary number.

Brown also appears as though he may get a pass on any significant tea party primary challenge, despite the occasional grumbling about his votes.

Through all of it, though, we need to remember: this is Massachusetts, and 2012 is a presidential election year.

In 2008, President Obama won 1.9 million of the 3.1 million votes cast in the state. A little more than a year later, Brown won less than 1.2 million votes in a lower-turnout special election; he will need to expand his voter pool significantly, winning over even more Obama voters than last time.

We also need to remember that, despite Brown's special election win, Democrats ran the table in the 2010 general election in Massachusetts, winning every congressional race and every statewide seat. This is still a very Democratic state.

If Brown wins, it probably won't be by an overwhelming margin. But if he's looking like a good bet for reelection, that may be enough to scare off big-name opponents.

Brown can never rest easy, but for a guy who many thought to be dead-in-the-water when he ran for a full term, he's certainly ahead of the game at the moment.

Indiana Republicans open to Lugar alternative: Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), who is set to get a primary challenge from state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, enters the race with the GOP base willing to vote for someone else.

While Lugar starts out over 50 percent on the initial ballot test (52 percent), only 31 percent of GOP primary voters are committed to voting for him, according to a poll for Mourdock conducted by Wilson Research Strategies in early January and shared with The Fix.

Another 11 percent of GOP primary voters say they will definitely vote for someone other than Lugar, and 54 percent more say they are open to supporting another candidate.

Numbers were not provided for Mourdock in the head-to-head race, which suggests he's got a long ways to go building his profile.

Still, Lugar's numbers bode well for Mourdock if he can provide a viable alternative. Lugar has made little effort to avoid irritating the tea party, and this poll shows he's beatable with the right kind of candidate.

Mourdock is set to announce his candidacy on Tuesday.

Robinson to RGA: Josh Robinson will be named political director at the Republican Governors Association today, according to sources familiar with the move.

Robinson comes to the committee from Texas, where he served as director of political operations for Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst (R). Robinson, a graduate of Texas A&M, also managed Dewhurst's 2010 re-election bid.

Prior to his work for Dewhurst, Robinson did a stint as Louisiana Rep. Bill Cassidy's chief of staff. Robinson spent the 2008 cycle as the south and southwest regional political director at the National Republican Congressional Committee and in 2007 served as South Carolina field director for Arizona Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.

Robinson joins executive director Phil Cox, finance director Angela Meyers and communications director Mike Schrimpf on the senior staff team for the RGA.

Robinson isn't the only Texan at the RGA, of course. Rick Perry, the governor of the Lone Star State, is serving as the organization's chairman for the 2012 cycle.

Obama tied with generic Republican: A new Gallup poll finds Obama tied with a generic "Republican Party's candidate" in 2012.

The same question got similar results a year ago. The pollsters write that both George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush were better positioned for re-election at this point in their presidencies.

But considering their different fates, polling this far out doesn't say much.

Fixbits:

Republican operatives are seeking a host of papers from the Department of Homeland Security that might help them if Secretary Janet Napolitano runs for Senate in Arizona. Meanwhile, former Democratic Senate candidate Jim Pederson announced on Wednesday that he would not run for retiring Sen. Jon Kyl's (R-Ariz.) seat.

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty told Florida lawmakers that the state missed its chance to lead on education reform when former Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a teacher merit pay bill last year. "I would salivate, I would dream about a bill like that having come to my desk when I was governor. I wish I could have gotten a bill like that," Pawlenty said Wednesday.

The Atlas Project will host a debriefing at the AFL-CIO on March 4, featuring Obama pollster Joel Benenson and the former executive directors of the DGA (Nathan Daschle), DSCC (J.B. Poersch) and DCCC (Jon Vogel), as well as the AFL-CIO's Mike Podhorzer.

Recently defeated former Rep. Allen Boyd (D-Fla.) has become -- you guessed it! -- a lobbyist.

Must-reads:

"John Ensign -- No RSVP Required" -- Reid Wilson, National Journal

"Obama Talks to Kaine About....?" -- Michael D. Shear, New York Times

"Mitch Daniels's case for a less strident conservatism" -- George F. Will, Washington Post

By Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza  | February 17, 2011; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  Morning Fix  
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