There is a great deal at stake in next year's election. We are entering the fourth year of a disastrous economic downturn that requires us to return to the principles of free enterprise, hard work and innovation. Senator Brown has made it his mission to reduce taxes, spending, over-regulation and the size of government – all of which are making economic recovery more difficult. His top priority has been and will continue to be putting America back to work. His ambitious jobs agenda contains legislation to cut red tape and taxes, expand job opportunities for veterans, and give millions of underwater homeowners the opportunity to save thousands of dollars a year by refinancing at lower interest rates. He has been a leader for our local biotech, healthcare and fishing industries.
Senator Brown was deeply moved by his experience in Afghanistan this summer, where he requested that he be able to fulfill his National Guard training and served side-by-side with military members from Massachusetts and around the country. As a 31-year member of the National Guard, with the rank of lieutenant colonel, Senator Brown's unique perspective on matters affecting national security, our military and veteran community was strengthened by the boots-on-the-ground look at the nature of the war on terror. He also came away with a new appreciation for the service and sacrifice of the many people who are fighting so we can enjoy our freedoms at home.
We head into the final quarter of 2011 in strong shape for next year's re-election campaign. Senator Brown has great personal attributes and high job approval numbers. He's viewed as an honest broker who connects with people because he's an open-minded and independent thinker who does what's best for Massachusetts. One of the year's highlights was the publication of Senator Brown's memoir, "Against All Odds," a New York Times bestseller that chronicled Senator Brown's difficult childhood of physical abuse and broken homes. The story of a young Scott Brown -- who was shunted from one home to another, seventeen times over his first eighteen years -- overcoming the odds in his rise to national prominence has further endeared him to voters.
Fundraising over the last year has been especially solid. Although we have yet to report our Q3 numbers, Senator Brown had amassed a war chest of nearly $10 million through the first half of the year. This is largely due to our success in building an impressive Massachusetts-based finance team and to the tremendously positive response we have received from the people of Massachusetts as we have shifted the focus of our fundraising to in-state events as opposed to the largely out-of-state online donations that fueled the 2010 Special U.S. Senate election. We anticipate the Democratic nominee will be well-funded and be the beneficiary of millions of dollars in third-party spending by outside special interests whose discredited attacks have continued in the 20 months since Scott’s election.
The political environment for a Republican running in Massachusetts is generally thought to be difficult, but the standing of Democrats has been steadily deteriorating due to the bad economy and a widespread culture of corruption that is alienating the state's voters. Recently, former House Speaker Sal DiMasi was sentenced to eight years in prison for taking a hidden share in a state contract -- the third Democratic speaker in a row to resign in shame. Following DiMasi's sentencing, a former probation commissioner and the top aide to former State Treasurer Tim Cahill were indicted in a patronage scandal. The effect has been to up "the sliminess index" on Beacon Hill, as Boston Globe columnist Joan Vennochi put it.
On the jobs front, the national unemployment rate has risen to 9.1%, creating misery for millions of people across the country. While the Massachusetts rate is below the national average at 7.4%, it is still unacceptably high and well above the 4.7% rate that existed when Democrats took over the governor's office five years ago. It also does not include hundreds of thousands of people who have either stopped looking for employment, or are employed in part-time jobs when they really want full-time work.
As the outsider party in Massachusetts, Republicans have enjoyed a resurgence. Last month, Keiko Orrall, a Republican, won a special election to the Massachusetts House, putting the 12th Bristol seat in GOP hands for the first time in more than 30 years. Prior to that, in May, Republican Peter Durant defeated Democrat Geraldo Alicea in a special election for the 6th Worcester district. The results of these two special elections increased the Republican numbers in the House to 33, building on substantial gains made in last year's election.
Whomever Democrats nominate for U.S. Senate next September will invariably support the same failed tax, borrow and spend policies that keep our economy teetering on the brink of recession, millions of Americans in the unemployment line, and which voters in the state are rejecting at every opportunity.
They will have engaged in a year-long highly public battle to position themselves as the candidate most appealing to liberal base primary voters. Although Democrats outnumber Republicans by a wide margin in the state, their numbers pale in comparison to the growing number of independent voters who now make up a majority of registered voters. A long, divisive and expensive Democrat primary will undoubtedly produce a hard-left ideologue whose out-of-touch philosophy will be out-of-step with these voters
Further, a large proportion of Democratic general election voters will be more moderate and conservative ethnic and working-class voters who appreciate Scott Brown’s common-man appeal and common-sense policies. They helped deliver victory to Scott in 2010 and will be a key group within Scott Brown’s winning coalition in 2012.