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Scott Brown, Massachusetts Democrats Battle to Define Senate Race

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Is GOP Sen. Scott Brown an independent, common-sense voice for Massachusetts, or is he poised to be the 51st vote in support of a Senate with a tea party agenda?

Competing memorandums from the Massachusetts Democratic Party and Brown’s campaign are set to hit inboxes later today, both hoping to frame the narrative of an important, competitive Senate race 13 months before the election.

“The choice for Massachusetts is stark,” state Democratic Party Communications Director Kevin Franck wrote. “Elect a senator who will be a voice for the middle-class or send [Minority Leader] Mitch McConnell [R-Ky.] the 51st vote he needs to give Tea Party Republicans control of the U.S. Senate.”

That’s hardly the storyline Brown campaign manager Jim Barnett emphasized. Brown is “viewed as an honest broker who connects with people because he’s an open-minded and independent thinker who does what’s best for Massachusetts,” Barnett wrote.

Barnett also wrote that his candidate was focused on jobs and “has made it his mission to reduce taxes, spending, over-regulation and the size of government ­— all of which are making economic recovery more difficult.”

But state Democrats are trying to undermine Brown’s case that he is an independent voice.

“While Scott Brown is likely to highlight the few times he has broken from Tea Party Republican orthodoxy to vote with Democrats, it’s worth pointing out that those measures would hardly have had a chance to advance in a Republican Senate,” Franck wrote. He cited Brown’s vote to overturn the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which he posits would never have reached the Senate floor if McConnell were in charge. He also framed Brown’s vote in favor of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act as something the Bay State’s junior Senator only voted on “after making sure that the banking industry would not be on the hook for the cost of implementing new reforms.”

While telegraphing the broader points of the strategies that both sides will deploy over the next year, the memos also tapped into tried-and-true party talking points.

“A Tea Party-controlled Senate would double-down on the failed economic policies of the past, continuing tax breaks for Big Oil companies, CEOs and hedge fund managers while insisting that the full burden of getting our nation’s fiscal house in order be placed squarely on the shoulders of the middle class,” Franck wrote, echoing the standard Democratic line.

“Whomever Democrats nominate for U.S. Senate next September will invariably support the same failed tax, borrow and spend policies that keep our economy teetering on the brink of recession, [and] millions of Americans in the unemployment line,” Barnett wrote, echoing standard Republican fare.

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