The current media tour of Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., is about more than hawking a book. It’s a launching point for his goal of raising an eye-popping $25 million for his 2012 reelection bid, more than twice what Massachusetts Democrats have figured he would have on hand.
A war chest that size would likely dwarf the fundraising capabilities of the nascent Democratic field, which has been slow-forming in the face of poll numbers showing Brown as the state’s most popular political figure. Democrats have been further intimidated by Brown’s expected haul so far—estimated at around $10 million— still nowhere near the benchmark he set on Tuesday.
During a launch event for his reelection steering committee at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Brown said he has appearances planned on 60 Minutes and CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight. He will also pair a book signing with a Reagan Library address on February 25, according to one person in attendance and another familiar with Brown’s intentions.
Brown’s book, Against All Odds: My Life of Hardship, Fast Breaks, and Second Chances, goes on sale February 21, a little more than a year after he was sworn in following an out-of-nowhere campaign to win the seat held by Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy from 1962 until his death in August 2009. Brown, who had been a back-bench state senator known more for his American Idol contestant daughter, became one of the country’s biggest political celebrities.
Brown’s election last year was propelled largely by his $15.5 million haul, which fueled his dramatic surge in the race’s final weeks. For the current cycle, his efforts will be augmented by the book tour.
If Democrats can field a viable challenger to Brown, he can expect to be hit by a blizzard of outside spending. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee stepped up its criticism of Brown last week, most pointedly over his vote last week to repeal health care reform. Waning conservative and tea party affection for him might not offset the liberal opposition.
But whether Democrats can produce such a challenger remains an open question since the only one who has emerged thus far, Robert Massie, was last prominent on the local political scene in 1994 when he ran for lieutenant governor and lost.
Early signs that Brown could approach the $25 million mark—he had $7.2 million on hand in his latest report—would likely provoke additional skittishness among Democrats. It’s the same figure Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he would shoot for in 2009 to ward off challengers. He survived the tea party campaign of Republican Sharron Angle.
This article appears in the February 9, 2011 edition of NJ Daily.