Seeing red, PAC is down on Scott Brown

January 31, 2011

By Jim McElhatton-The Washington Times

The National Republican Trust spent nearly $100,000 last year to help Scott Brown win the U.S. Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, but now the conservative political group wishes it had that money back to help kick Mr. Brown out of office.

Saying the Republican senator is no different from a Democrat, the head of the group is calling for Mr. Brown to donate to charity or disgorge campaign money equal to how much the trust spent supporting him during the 2010 campaign.

The trust’s executive director, Scott Wheeler, said supporters knew Mr. Brown wasn’t going to be a die-hard conservative when they supported him early and often in his run against Martha Coakley, the Democratic state attorney general and once heavy favorite to succeed Mr. Kennedy.

But Mr. Wheeler said he and his group’s conservative backers are now disillusioned, citing Mr. Brown’s vote to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia, which the group sharply opposed.

“New START is something he should have been able to vote against,” Mr. Wheeler said.

Mr. Brown won the 2010 special election to fill out Mr. Kennedy’s term, which ends in January 2013, by a 52 percent to 47 percent margin. The trust spent $96,000 to help Mr. Brown pull off his upset win in the heavily Democratic state. It backed Mr. Brown early and encouraged donors across the country to give to his campaign directly.

The trust didn’t give the $96,000 directly to the Brown campaign, paying for and running ads backing his candidacy independently.

“We’d recommend that he take that money and spend it on a primary opponent who is more conservative,” Mr. Wheeler said.

But if conservatives who helped boost Mr. Brown’s profile now feel betrayed by his votes in the Senate, more liberal Massachusetts voters may not agree. A Jan. 14 poll by Suffolk University found Mr. Brown leading against Mrs. Coakley 50 percent to 46 percent in a statewide survey.

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