Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) has been taking some hits for his refusal to appear with Sarah Palin at the Tea Party rally in Boston. Many Tea Party activists supported Brown in the January special election and viewed his win as a movement victory. But Brown might be in for more conservative criticism ahead.
Brown has recently shown himself to be willing to take sides in competitive Republican primaries, both outside Massachusetts (he has campaigned for John McCain against J.D. Hayworth) and inside the commonwealth. In Massachusetts’ 10th congressional district, he has endorsed Jeff Perry for the Republican nomination over former state Treasurer Joe Malone. In the GOP gubernatorial primary, he has picked Charlie Baker over Christy Mihos.
In fact, not only has Brown endorsed Baker but he has pulled out the pickup truck to help him campaign. This high-profile support of Baker could land Brown in the middle of another conservative schism: Independent candidate Tim Cahill, the incumbent state treasurer and a former Democrat, is running to Baker’s right on Obamacare, Romneycare, guns, and social issues. Cahill picked as his running mate Paul Loscocco, a pro-life conservative Republican state legislator. Baker’s running mate is Richard Tisei, a GOP legislator who has a 100 percent rating from NARAL, is a cosponsor of a transgendered public bathrooms bill, and was the only Republican state senator to vote against the income tax rollback.
Cahill’s forces plan to hit Baker-Tisei hard on all these conservative issue and local pro-Cahill bloggers are already on the job. There is increasing rumbling that Cahill backers will not spare Scott Brown — who is up for re-election in 2012 and will need every Bay State conservative vote he can get — if the senator seems poised to try to drag Baker across the finish line.
For his part, Brown no doubt sees himself as supporting a longtime favorite of the Massachusetts GOP and trying to do a little party-building with a stronger general election candidate than Mihos. Signs of conservative and Republican life in Massachusetts are rare. Signs of conservative and Republican infighting are even rarer.
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