- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2010

As Washington struggled to discern a meaning from Massachusetts’ special election, candidates outside the Beltway said one message is clear: Outsider, grass-roots campaigns that tap voters’ anger at Washington arrogance will win in 2010.

Republican Scott Brown, who outhustled his opponent Tuesday to win a Senate seat that Democrats had held since 1953, became an instant brand name, with Republicans claiming to be “Scott Brown” candidates in their own races and Democratic candidates trying to heed the lessons of his shocking victory.

Scott Brown shares my belief that public office is a public trust, and he’s opened the door for Republican victories in the Northeast,” said former Rep. Rob Simmons, Connecticut Republican, putting himself in the mold of his New England neighbor in fundraising e-mail asking for donations of $41 in honor of Mr. Brown’s crucial 41st Republican seat in the Senate.

But his opponent in the Republican primary for Connecticut’s open Senate seat, pro-wrestling executive Linda McMahon, fired back, titling a press release: “You’re no Scott Brown.”

In Florida, Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running for the state’s open Senate seat, said Mr. Brown fits his own mold.

“He sounds like a Charlie Crist Republican, from what I heard,” Mr. Crist said. “Very pragmatic, reasonable, conservative, that understands that the people are in charge and you need to listen to them and serve with a servant’s heart.”

Mr. Crist said Mr. Brown’s message of fiscal responsibility also was a powerful force.

“There is a frustration, if you will, with Washington and the ridiculous spending that’s going on,” he said.

Mr. Brown, speaking to reporters in Massachusetts on Wednesday, a day after his victory over Democrat Martha Coakley, said he is leaving it up to pundits to determine the message of the election.

“Bottom line is, I was always asked many times what kind of Republican I would be. And I really didn’t know how to answer that, so I just said I’m going to be a Scott Brown Republican,” he said. “Maybe there’s a new breed of Republican coming to Washington. Maybe people will finally look at somebody who’s not beholden to the special interests of the party, and who will look to just to solve problems.”

That message already has become a rallying cry.

Jim Gibbons, a Republican who is planning to run against Rep. Leonard L. Boswell, Iowa Democrat, said the Massachusetts election shows that voters want independence.

“They’re just looking for tough-minded people that are not just automatically agreeing with the premise. Scott Brown - his approach was just not to automatically agree with the premise that’s being served up,” Mr. Gibbons said.

Rand Paul, a Republican who is running for Kentucky’s open Senate seat, said the enthusiasm of “tea party” supporters, the anti-government movement that sprang up last summer and backed Mr. Brown, can aid candidates across the country - but only if they can distinguish themselves as outside the establishment.

“The tea party movement isn’t just about electing somebody with an “R.” They want somebody who believes in something,” he said.

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