GUY W. FARMER: Mr. Brown goes to Washington
For the Nevada Appeal
When little-known Republican State Sen. Scott Brown beat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley on Jan. 19 for the U.S. Senate seat that was held by the late Edward Kennedy for more than 40 years, it was a political earthquake, the electoral shock waves from which will be felt in Nevada and throughout the nation this fall.
Brown defeated Coakley, the Democrats’ hand-picked candidate for what they called the “Kennedy Seat,” by six points in one of the most liberal states in the union, thereby sending a clear message to President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “We aren’t buying what you’re selling, particularly Big Government exemplified by your trillion-dollar version of health care reform,” Massachusetts voters told Obama, Reid, Pelosi & Co. “Enough already!”
The White House struggled to recover from the game-changing election by bringing in Obama’s 2008 campaign manager, David Plouffe, to “recalibrate” the president’s political message. That recalibration began with Wednesday’s State of the Union address as Obama made a populist “I’m on your side” pitch to middle class voters. To me, it sounded a lot like what Sen.-elect Brown was saying in Massachusetts.
After Brown’s stunning victory in a state that Obama carried by more than 20 points only 15 months ago, leading Democrats immediately began attacking one another and tried to divert the political spotlight away from the president, who campaigned hard for Coakley. Some Democrats went so far as to blame former President George W. Bush (Who else?) for Coakley’s humiliating defeat while others lambasted Massachusetts voters for failing to understand and appreciate the wonders of Obamacare and massive corporate bailouts.
“(Obama’s) rhetorical gifts can now work against him, when he raises expectations only to see them crash into realities for which he’s now held accountable,” observed Nancy Gibbs of Time magazine. Fred Barnes of the neo-conservative Weekly Standard put it another way: “The trillion-dollar cost of Obamacare, plus other spending plans, terrified independents (and) inspired a full-scale migration . . . away from Obama and Democrats,” he wrote. I understand Barnes’ thesis because I’m one of those disillusioned independent voters.
Brown’s victory could have serious consequences for Sen. Reid, who is in real trouble for the first time in many years. Although he’s done many good things for Nevada over the years, our once moderate senior senator has become a liberal Washington insider, which doesn’t play well in our maverick state.
Come November, I think Lt. Gov. Brian Krolicki could be the Scott Brown of Nevada. Stay tuned.
• Guy W. Farmer, of Carson City, has been a Nevada voter since 1962.