In 2010, he was the tea party poster boy. In 2012, Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown may not get so much as a nod of acknowledgement from tea party groups.
Brown shocked the country back in 2010 when he beat his Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, and was elected to the state’s Senate seat vacated by the late Teddy Kennedy. The Tea Party Express paid to run pro-Brown ads. FreedomWorks activists campaigned for him.
In short, Scott Brown was the tea party movement’s first electoral victory. But now that he’s up for re-election for a full six-year term in 2012, tea party activists tell The Daily Caller they’re not going to bother putting together the same operation that swept him into office the first time.
That’s not to say tea partiers will not vote for Brown, or even put up much of an effort to oppose him since a serious primary challenger has yet to be found. The movement has matured into realizing that sometimes the “least of two evils” — as one activist put it — is necessary in a traditionally blue state like Massachusetts.
But don’t expect tea partiers to be happy about it.
“Scott Brown has disappointed us a few times,” Carlos Hernandez, state coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, told TheDC. “So are we going to go out there and hold signs for him everyday? I don’t think so.”
“Now, does that mean we’re not going to hold our nose and vote for him? No, because the other option is not an option,” added Hernandez, referring to the Democrat roster challenging Brown. (Poll: Brown in statistical dead heat with Elizabeth Warren)
Hernandez’ sentiments were also echoed by national tea party representatives TheDC talked to. One prominent tea party activist said that “while he won’t be a major target for defeat … he also won’t be getting anywhere near the support that helped sweet him into office.”
Adam Brandon, communications director for FreedomWorks took a slightly more nuanced view when talking to TheDC. According to Brandon, FreedomWorks is planning to largely ignore Brown altogether.
If he does end up getting a challenge from the right, Brown is on his own. If he faces a difficult challenge from, say, Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren, while FreedomWorks may take steps to “educate voters” on the Democrat, Brown is essentially on his own.
That latter scenario is already starting to materialize. A Massachusetts poll released earlier this week had Warren in a statistical dead heat. The poll had Brown narrowly leading at 41 to 38 percent.
“He is not, let’s say, rising to that level of champion,” said Brandon, comparing Brown to other 2010 tea party stars like Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul and Utah Sen. Mike Lee.
“Don’t expect to see FreedomWorks stuff all over Massachusetts,” he added. “You’re not going to see same fanfare you’ll see with us working in Ohio, Florida or Nebraska.”
Still, the lack of tea party enthusiasm shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to the Scott Brown campaign. In April of 2011, Judson Phillips, leader of the Tea Party Nation, said Brown effectively threw tea partiers “under the bus”.
“Memo to Scott Brown,” wrote Phillips during the budget battle last spring. “If you think budget cuts ‘disproportionately affect low-income families and seniors,’ what do you think is going to happen when we have an economic collapse?”