Sen. Scott Brown burst onto the national scene nearly one year ago, helping to invigorate a moribund Republican Party and rejuvenating a Senate minority that had been unable to sustain a filibuster before his arrival as its 41st Member.
Boosted by victories in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in 2009 and the yearlong fight over health care reform on Capitol Hill, the GOP was already rebounding after reaching a low point with the inauguration of President Barack Obama.
But the nature of Brown’s rise — winning a Jan. 19 special election to succeed the late liberal icon Edward Kennedy in heavily Democratic Massachusetts — was akin to a political earthquake that cracked the Democratic Party’s grip on power.
In an interview Jan. 7 to discuss his first year in office, Brown appeared simultaneously the humble, down-to-earth and previously unknown state legislator who arrived in Washington, D.C., last year; and a veteran Senator who is comfortable with his celebrity and cognizant of the power and influence he can wield.
“I’m blessed to be here. To be a United States Senator is certainly something I’m aware of and thoughtful and appreciative of,” Brown said, sitting in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building. “But it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve got to travel — Israel, Dubai, Jordan, Pakistan, Afghanistan. I’ve met with the president, the vice president a couple of times. I’ve met with all of our leaders on both sides of the aisle. I’m trying to get the country and the Congress moving together again. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
Brown’s autobiography, “Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances,” is scheduled for release Feb. 21, according to Amazon.com. Few Senators have been treated with as much fanfare this early. Brown, who began his career in 1992 by winning the office of Wrentham, Mass., assessor, has proved to be the exception, and not just because of the circumstances surrounding his election.
He is telegenic and possesses natural charisma. He is a draw on the fundraising circuit, and is a commodity on Capitol Hill by virtue of being one of the few Northeastern Republicans in Congress and an occasional go-to guy for Democrats looking for GOP support on legislation.
Brown conceded that the media scrutiny he has faced has been a “little brighter” than anticipated. “I thought it would maybe subside, somewhat. But it’s always there at this constant pitch,” he said.
But he appears to have settled into a routine. He works long hours, sometimes sleeping on his office couch, and said he is using Kennedy as a model, in terms of his decision to focus on legislating and constituent service.
Brown even retained two Kennedy aides: Boston-based Constituent Services Specialist Emily Winterson and Mailroom Director Larry Bageant, who works in Washington, D.C.