In Scott Brown Territory, A Rough Election Night

By Ralph Ranalli

NOV. 3, 2010

Republican candidate for governor Charlie Baker shakes hands with U.S. Sen. Scott Brown at a campaign event on Saturday, Oct. 30. (AP)

WRENTHAM -- A funny thing happened on the way to the Scott Brown revolution: It turns out Scott Brown was the revolution.

At least in Massachusetts, where voters decided the Republicans on yesterday’s ballot weren’t their cup of tea. News of yesterday’s Democratic sweep in races for statewide constitutional offices and for seats in the U.S. Congress was tough to take for some, especially in the heart of Scott Brown territory: his hometown of Wrentham.

Shirley Daniels, a registered independent, voted Republican and went to bed before the results came in. On a visit to her insurance agent in Wrentham Center, Daniels was informed of the Democratic sweep. She was nonplussed.

“Deval Patrick got in again? Oh, God,” Daniels said. “There goes our money. Right down the tube.”

Brown’s  unexpected U.S. Senate victory in January gave national momentum to Republicans, who on Tuesday won control of the U.S. House and made gains in the U.S. Senate. But the results here had his Wrentham neighbors asking what became of the revolution in their own back yard.

Tom Porro of Foxborough said he thought recent dips positive economic trends in Massachusetts, including a falling unemployment rate, may have blunted the anger voters felt elsewhere. “I think Massachusetts is doing much better than a lot of other parts of the country,” he said. “And the Tea Party hasn’t got the hold is has in some of the other parts of the country.”

Another possibility: This year’s Republicans just weren’t likeable enough. Self-described Scott Brown Democrat Maureen Davis said she saw a lot of candidates on the ballot, but none of them were him.

“It was his personality, his views,” Davis said. “I don’t think they (the Republicans) had the same thing with the candidates they put up in Massachusetts.”

Davis said that included GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker. “I didn’t feel comfortable with him,” she said. “I didn’t have a lot of faith in him.”

Brown’s replacement in the state Senate, fellow Republican Rep. Richard Ross, says this year’s GOP candidates weren’t seen as coalition builders like his predecessor. “People don’t want people to pull you too far to the edges and they do want somebody to bring you back to the middle,” Ross said. “Which is where you do the hard work of getting along and finding a compromise position that works for the voters.”

Ross also believes the Democratic Party’s revved-up election-day machine simply overwhelmed outnumbered Republicans on the ground. “I think when you’re so few in number, getting out the vote becomes very difficult,” he said.

Yet Ross, who is now one of just four members of the GOP caucus in the state Senate, doesn’t believe all is lost for Republicans in Massachusetts. While losing one seat in the Senate, the GOP picked up as many as 15 seats in the state House of Representatives, doubling the size of the delegation.

He also believes the Patrick Administration used federal stimulus money to paper over problems in the still-struggling Massachusetts economy.

“I think the economy is going to help us a lot in the next few years,” he said. “When the stimulus is gone … I think that’s going to fuel the next round of anger that will come in the next two years.”

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