He may be an original tea party hero, but Sen. Scott Brown (R) is among a small group of Senate Republicans up for re-election in 2012 likely to face an attack from the right. Among those select few, however, no one has a more impressive bank account than Brown, a former state Senator who famously captured the Massachusetts Senate seat held by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D) in early 2010.
Brown will file a year-end report with the Federal Election Commission today showing a cash balance of $7.2 million at the end of last year — a figure first reported by the Boston Herald. That’s triple the amount of his Republican colleagues who are bracing for the possibility of a challenge from the right and left next year.
The Maine tea party movement has identified “Snowe removal” as a top priority — a reference to ousting three-term Sen. Olympia Snowe (R). Snowe reported a cash balance of $1.2 million at the end of December.
In Indiana, Sen. Dick Lugar (R) is a top target for local tea party supporters, who banded together last weekend to sign a proclamation promising to rally around a single primary challenger in June. Lugar reported $2.4 million in his campaign account at the end of the year.
Brown’s bloated campaign account is largely the result of a flood of tea-party-related cash he received in the weeks before his 2010 special election victory. He couldn’t spend the money fast enough, raising more than $15 million in that effort and finishing the special election cycle with $6 million in cash on hand.
Ironically, it’s the tea party money that puts him in a strong position to fend off any challenge from the right. The Bay State’s tea party movement has not hidden its irritation with Brown’s voting record to date.
“I wish he was voting differently,” Christen Varley, president of the Greater Boston Tea Party told Roll Call earlier in the month. “I don’t think anybody in the tea party movement in Massachusetts has learned enough in the last year to launch an effective primary campaign against him. But I think there will be people who try.”
Even with a challenge from the right, Varley predicted that Brown would be “completely safe.” His bank account will certainly help.
While a Democratic challenger has yet to emerge, Roll Call Politics rates this race a Tossup.
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Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.