Scott Philip Brown (born September 12, 1959) is an American politician and the junior United States Senator from Massachusetts. Brown previously served as a member of the Massachusetts General Court, first in the State House of Representatives (1998–2004) and then in the State Senate (2004–2010).
Brown is a member of the Republican Party, and faced the Democratic candidate, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, in the 2010 special election to succeed U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy for the remainder of the term ending January 3, 2013. While initially trailing Coakley in polling by a large margin, Brown won the election and in January 2010 became the first Republican elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts since Edward Brooke in 1972.
Prior to entering the state legislature, he had experience as a town selectman and assessor. He is a practicing attorney, with expertise in real estate law, and served as defense counsel in the Judge Advocate General's Corps of theMassachusetts Army National Guard. Brown is a graduate of Wakefield High School (1977), Tufts University (1981), and Boston College Law School (1985).
Brown was born on September 12, 1959 in Kittery, Maine and grew up in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He often spent his summers in Newburyport, Massachusetts, where his father served as a city councilor for 18 years. Brown's father, Claude Bruce Brown, and mother, Judith Ann “Judi” (née Rugg), divorced when he was about a year old. Both his parents have since remarried three times. His father and his grandfather were Republicans. His father has said that young Scott became interested in running for political office in the mid 1960s while accompanying him on a campaign for state office. Scott Brown recalls holding campaign signs for his father.
Brown had a difficult childhood; after her divorce his working mother received welfare benefits. Brown experienced sexual abuse from a camp counselor who threatened to kill the 10-year-old boy if he told anyone—which he did not disclose even to his family until his autobiography Against All Odds (2011)—and physical abuse from his stepfathers. During various periods of his childhood, Brown lived with his grandparents and his aunt. He shoplifted many times, and was arrested for stealing record albums and brought before Judge Samuel Zoll in Salem, Massachusetts at the age of 13 or 14. Zoll asked Brown if his siblings would like seeing him play basketball in jail and required Brown to write a 1,500-word essay on that question as his punishment. Brown later said, "that was the last time I ever stole.
He graduated from Wakefield High School in 1977. He received a Bachelors of Arts in History, cum laude from Tufts University in 1981 and a Juris Doctor from Boston College Law School in 1985. During his undergraduate career at Tufts, Brown was a member of the Kappa Chapter of Zeta Psi International Fraternity.
Brown has said the rescue efforts of Army National Guard during the Northeastern United States blizzard of 1978 impressed him. He joined the Massachusetts Army National Guard when he was 19, receiving his basic training at Fort Dix, New Jersey, and attending Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) classes at the campus of Northeastern University. He was trained in infantry, quartermaster, and airborne duties, and in 1994 he joined the Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAG). He has been active in the Guard for about 30 years and has risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel. As the Army Guard's head defense attorney in New England, Brown defended Guard members who had disciplinary difficulties such as positive drug tests, and provided estate planning and real estate advice to those who are about to deploy to war zones. He spent ten days to two weeks with the Guard in Kazakhstan and a week inParaguay.
He was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious service in homeland security shortly after the September 11 attacks. He credits his military experience with causing him to focus on veteran's issues as well as issues of war and peace. He has served on the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee, the Hidden Wounds of War Commission, and the Governor's Task Force on Returning Veterans during his career as a legislator.
On May 2, 2011, Brown announced that he would soon go to Afghanistan for training as part of his Army National Guard service. When deployed in August 2011 for a week of training, he spent most of his time in Kabul.
In June 1982, Brown, then a 22-year-old law student at Boston College, won Cosmopolitan magazine's "America's Sexiest Man" contest. After two weeks on a crash diet of "three cans of tuna a day" and intensive workouts he was featured in the magazine's centerfold, posing nude but strategically positioned so that according to Brown, "You don't see anything". In the accompanying interview, he referred to himself as "a bit of a patriot" and stated that he had political ambitions. The Cosmopolitan appearance and its $1,000 fee helped pay for law school, and began for Brown a "long, lucrative" part-time catalog and print modeling career in New York and Boston during the 1980s.
He successfully ran for the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1998, representing the 9th Norfolk District for three terms. Brown again moved up the ladder of state politics to the state Senate in March 2004 when he won a special election to replace Democrat Cheryl Jacques. Brown was re-elected for a full term in November 2004, and again in November 2006, running without opposition the second time. He won re-election in November 2008, defeating Democratic candidate Sara Orozco by a 59–41 percent margin. Following his re-election, Brown was one of five Republicans in the 40-seat Massachusetts senate. In the Massachusetts Senate, Brown served on committees dealing with consumer protection, professional licensing, education, election laws, public safety, and veterans' affairs.
In February 2007, a controversy arose after Brown's appearance at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Massachusetts as part of a debate on gay marriage. The high school students had launched a Facebook group attack on Brown and had made a derogatory remark about his daughter, Ayla. During his presentation, Brown defended himself and his daughter by directly quoting several vulgar statements they had made and announcing the names of the students who had written the statements. Critics questioned whether Brown should have quoted the profane comments in front of a high school audience.
In January 2010, The Boston Globe reported that during six terms in the Legislature, three each in the House and Senate, Brown had a modest record of legislative initiatives, but he had carved out a niche as a leading advocate for veterans. Richard R. Tisei of Wakefield, Massachusetts, the leader of the Republican minority in the state Senate, called Brown "the acknowledged expert on veterans' issues." State Senator Jack Hart, a Democrat of South Boston, said: "He does his homework, he's comprehensive in his approach, and on veterans' issues, he's one of them and has done a very good job on their behalf."
Brown lists among his achievements as a legislator his authorship of a 2007 law that created a check-off box on state income tax forms for veterans to indicate whether they served in Iraq or Afghanistan. The state uses the information to notify veterans of available services and benefits, including the Welcome Home Bonus that provides $1,000 for those returning from active duty in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Brown on the campaign trail.
On September 12, 2009 (his 50th birthday), Brown announced his run for the U.S. Senate seat that became vacant with the death of Ted Kennedy, saying the state "needs an independent thinker." Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker said that Brown's political positions did not fall neatly into party lines, and called Brown "mainstream in a nation that defines itself as mostly conservative". Boris Shor, political scientist at the Harris School of Public Policy, described Brown as a liberal Republican by national standards, but well-suited for his Massachusetts constituency. Shor explained the support Brown was receiving from the conservative national GOP as due to their "decentralized decision" to support the candidate most likely to win.
Brown's opponents in the general election were Democratic nominee, Attorney General Martha Coakley, and independent Joseph L. Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy family). At the outset, he faced overwhelming odds because he was relatively unknown compared to Coakley, he was running as a Republican in a very Democratic state, and much of his campaigning had to be done during the Christmas and New Year's season when citizens do not generally pay much attention to politics. No Republican had been elected to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts since Edward Brooke in 1972. He polled far behind Coakley for several months, but closed the gap in the early weeks of January.
A week before the general election, Brown raised $1.3 million from over 16,000 donors in a 24-hour money bomb. His campaign office stated it raised $5 million over the period from January 11–15. Charlie Cook of the Cook Political Report stated on January 17 that he would put his "finger on the scale" for Scott Brown as the favorite. The Rothenberg Political Report released a statement that "the combination of public and private survey research and anecdotal information now strongly suggests that Republican Scott Brown will defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in tomorrow's race". Suffolk University's polling of three bellwether counties on January 18 had Brown leading Coakley by double-digit margins. Brown won the January 19 election, performing well in traditional Republican strongholds and holding rival Coakley's margins down in many Democratic precincts.
Brown campaigning in his truck.
One week before the January special election, a controversy arose over a Coakley approved television ad. The ad referenced the conscientious objector amendment Brown had sponsored for inclusion in a 2005 proposed state measure on patients' rights. This amendment would have allowed individual healthcare workers and hospitals to refuse to provide emergency contraceptive care to rape victims if they objected due to a religious belief. After the amendment failed, Brown did vote for the main bill which, along with other patient rights, requires healthcare workers and hospitals to provide such care. Coakley's ad featured a male voice that said, "Brown even favors letting hospitals deny emergency contraception to rape victims," over the ad's graphic which had the words, "Deny care to rape victims." Brown's daughter Ayla called the Coakley ad "completely inaccurate and misleading", and stated that her father would never deny care to a rape victim. Brown criticized Coakley for running what he described as attack ads.
In the 2010 Senate race, although Brown was not endorsed by the Greater Boston Tea Party group, the group organized a fund-raising breakfast for him in Boston. The Tea Party Express also endorsed Brown and bought ads on the national cable networks supporting Brown.
When told that at various times he has been labeled a conservative, moderate and a liberal Republican, he responded "I'm a Scott Brown Republican." According to Politifact, while Brown was a Massachusetts legislator, he voted about 90 percent with the state Republican leadership; however, Republican Leadership in the Massachusetts legislature is generally considered far more moderate than the national Republican Party.
On election night, after Coakley conceded, Brown gave a victory speech that stated, "It all started with me, my truck, and a few dedicated volunteers. It ended with Air Force One making an emergency run to Logan. I didn't mind when President Obama came here and criticized me – that happens in campaigns. But when he criticized my truck, that's where I draw the line."
October 2011 polling showed Brown's approvals had fallen and he faced a competitive re-election if matched against Democrat Elizabeth Warren. However, his numbers in early March 2012 showed he led Warren by 8 points in the polls. In March 2012, Brown's lead had narrowed to 2.3%, within the margin of error.
Brown was sworn in to office on February 4, 2010, by Vice President Joe Biden, in his capacity as President of the Senate, on the floor of the Senate. As a Class I Senator, his term will last until January 3, 2013.
Brown was among the speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., introducing former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney. Despite his appearance at CPAC, where he alluded to his election as making "big government spenders...[not] feel good at all", Brown refused to rule out a vote for a Democratic "jobs bill" proposal, and has praised both Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and senior Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts for indicating their willingness to work with him across party lines.Brown was one of five Republican senators to vote for cloture on the jobs bill. The motion passed in the Senate 62–30 on February 22, 2010. In an up or down vote on the bill itself on February 24, 2010, Brown voted for final passage, helping to pass the bill 70–28.
According to the Washington Post, Brown voted with the majority of Republicans 80% of the time. In the same poll, "56% of Massachusetts voters believed he has kept his promise to be an independent voice in the U.S. Senate."
Brown's views on the 2011 budget cuts have been at odds with some of his fellow Republicans and Tea Party conservatives. His reluctance to go along with some of the more drastic budget cuts has placed him at odds with Glenn Beck and other prominent conservatives. He said he opposed these measures because he believed that they would have a negative impact on low income families and children.
In late June 2010, Brown was ranked as "the most popular officeholder in Massachusetts" according to a poll conducted by the Boston Globe. 55% of those polled had favorable opinions of Brown nearly five months after his January 19, 2010, special election victory to finish the term of the late Senator Edward Kennedy. 50% of respondents generally approved of how Brown had handled his new position.
On March 30, 2011, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee released a poll showing that Brown remained the "most popular politician in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, with an approval rating of 73 percent." Brown's "'re-elect' score was comfortably above 50 percent, which is unusual for a Republican in an overwhelmingly Democratic state."
Brown's committee assignments are as follows.