Brown the man or Brown the number?

By Jim Borghesani

The stories by the Globe and CommonWealth magazine on Monday regarding the phenomenal amount of down-the-stretch cash that flowed into US Sen.-elect Scott Brown’s coffers from across the nation provided, for me, a bit more clarity on the lessons learned from his victory.

Maybe it wasn’t the truck, or the singing daughter, or the stances on terrorists and taxes and too much spending.

Maybe it was just the number.


As Richard Hillman, a California financial analyst, told the Globe’s Casey Ross, “Basically, I thought making him the 41st Republican vote in the Senate would prevent some really terrible legislation from getting through.”  Until he donated the $2,400 max on Jan. 16, three days before the election, Hillman said he’d been following the race “only casually.”

Martin Gruss, owner of a Florida financial firm, told Ross he contributed (again, the max, and again, within days of the election) because he thought Brown’s election would “help redress the balance of power in the Senate.”

So, was it Brown the man or Brown the number?

And what happens if the Senate balance changes either way after the November elections and Brown’s number loses some of its magic?  Then it becomes Brown the man, and that man in 2012 has to convince a lot of voters that they made the right decision in 2010.

Brown has 34 months or so to plead his case.  Given the short span of the special election and Brown’s back-loaded surge, the public barely knows the man they elected.  The media is starting to fill in the blanks.  Brown and his handlers face the odd phenomenon of defining a candidate after his election, rather than before.  Stances, mantras and rushed surface imagery are now giving way to deeper, lengthier scrutiny. 

Add a hugely fickle electorate to the mix, and things get really interesting.

Jim Borghesani is president of  PrimePoint Strategic Media.


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