Last January, Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) triumphed in his long-shot campaign for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts with the help of Tea Party activists. In addition to offering its support, the Tea Party Express PAC spent nearly $300,000 backing Brown or attacking his opponent Martha Coakley. “If it wasn’t for the Tea Party movement, Scott Brown wouldn’t have gotten that seat,” said one Tea Party activist.
But after Brown voted to block a GOP filibuster on a $15 billion jobs bill, tea partiers shot back with charges of “letdown,” “betrayal,” “sellout,” and “RINO” (“Republican in name only”). The Boston Herald reports that Brown has now “snubbed” the group:
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, whose stunning victory in January was fueled in part by Tea Party anger, has snubbed the fiery grassroots group and declined its invitation to join Sarah Palin Wednesday at a massive rally on Boston Common, the Herald has learned.
Brown’s decision to skip the first big rally in Boston by the group whose members are credited with helping him win election has some experts saying he’s tossed the Tea Party overboard, as he prepares for re-election in 2012.
Tea Party Express chairman Mark Williams downplayed Brown’s move, saying, “It’s not about paying favors back.” And Brown’s spokesperson said the Senator is simply too busy to get away from the Senate. But experts called Williams’ view “naive” and questioned whether Brown has to stay in Washington:
“He wants to mainstream himself before the election,” said Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist. [...] Sabato said it’s “possible” Brown can’t get away but noted senators do travel to their districts during the weeks-long stretches that the Senate is in session. “It’s not like they’re voting constantly,” Sabato said. ” [...]
It’s naive, but they’re cutting him some slack,” Sabato said.
“But he’s their hero, more so than Sarah Palin – they got him elected.”
Another analyst noted that “to win re-election, Scott Brown floating to the right is a serious problem. And showing up at a Sarah Palin/Tea Party event is not the way to the middle.”
This is not he first time Brown has sought to distance himself from Palin. The Herald notes that “[s]hortly after his triumph, Brown denied receiving a congratulatory call from Palin, only to remember the exchange when pressed.”