In Massachusetts, Brown-Warren civility begins to crack

September 15, 2012


For the better part of a year, the Massachusetts Senate race between Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren has been a paragon of positivity: Two candidates making their case to voters, not a single ugly attack ad. Even super PACs — the masters of doing candidates’ dirty work — have stayed away.

If that all sounds too good to keep up — well, it probably is.

With control of the Senate hanging in the balance and Democrat Warren at risk of losing in the deep blue state, the civility that has marked the past year may soon be a quaint memory.

Warren took the first shot this week with a spot criticizing Brown for “siding with the big money guys” — mild by negative ad standards, but a departure still. The ad may well be a sign of a distinctly harsher tone to come.

Warren acted under acute pressure from Democratic leaders — in Washington and Massachusetts — who are fretting that one of their best Senate pickup opportunities could be slipping away.
Their anxiety is well-founded.

The latest public poll had Warren down by only a point, but recent surveys shows her trailing by double digits among critical independent voters. And Brown, a rare Republican in Congress who bucks his party at times, is peeling away as many as one in five Democrats.

Enter New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the messaging chief for Senate Democrats. He personally urged Warren to take a tougher line against Brown, as did Guy Cecil, the executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to sources familiar with the talks. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid shared those concerns, sources said.

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