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Scott Brown Dodges Central Mass Debate

Friday, July 20, 2012


US Senator Scott Brown (R) has been dodging debates in Central Mass, leaving some in the area wondering how he will connect with local voters. Both candidates have made numerous appearances in Worcester County, but Brown has declined multiple debate offers in the Heart of the Commonwealth.

Brown's opponent Elizabeth Warren (D) has repeatedly called for the Brown camp to accept a debate in the second largest city in New England.

In order to connect with local voters, with or without a debate in Worcester, both candidates have made sure to spend time with those voters who may be the ultimate deciders of the election.  

This month alone, Warren, who agreed to a Worcester debate that Brown declined, came to Rutland and Worcester for each community's July 4th celebration and made a stop at the Teamsters Local 170 earlier this week.    

Brown made the most of his limited availability and visited three diverse parts of Worcester County on July 3.  He had coffee at Heritage Coffee Shop in Auburn, ice cream at Uhlman's in Westborough, and gave a speech at Veterans Inc. in Worcester.  

Alleigh Marre, a spokesperson for the Brown campaign pointed out that the Senator has made a variety of visits to Central Mass and connects to the voters here.  

Senator’s Schedule

While Brown makes trips to the area when he can,  he is at a scheduling disadvantage because he is needed in Washington D.C. According to Marre, Brown is at the capitol Monday through Thursday when the Senate is in session.

"People in the heart of the Commonwealth like the fact that Scott drives a pick-up truck, his every-man image and his working class background. He was immensely proud to kick off his re-election campaign at historic Mechanics Hall in Worcester on January 19 and has since had the privilege of returning to Central Massachusetts more than 30 times, holding forums with veterans, hosting a jobs fair, and visiting businesses and non-profits across Worcester County. Senator Brown has agreed to more debates than any other incumbent Massachusetts senator in 16 years," Marre said. "Senator Brown’s debate appearances and more than 30 visits to Worcester county will provide a stark difference between Scott Brown’s independent leadership and pro-jobs agenda, and Elizabeth Warren’s job-destroying tax and spend philosophy.”

“While incumbency has its advantages, it also means that he's got a job to do while Warren can go from place to place,” Jeff Raymond, a member of the local Republican Town Committee in Millbury, said.  

Member of the Worcester Warren camp and chairwoman of the Worcester Democratic City Committee, Candy Carlson asked where the senator had been recently, saying, “I don’t see him as the Massachusetts individual. Elizabeth’s story and her family speaks to folks like us. Scott doesn’t have that same – he doesn’t. It would be pretty hard to say he’s one of us.”

While Brown made three appearances in the area on July 3rd, he only tallied two public events for June and two for May. April was a busy time for Brown in Central Mass with a total of five stops that month.

Total, Scott Brown has been in the area 34 times since January 9th, 23 of which were publicly advertised as events for the campaign. Elizabeth Warren has been in Central Mass 24 times on the campaign trail.

One stop many would like to see would be a public debate held in Worcester, something Brown has declined to take part in multiple times.

All Sides Have Asked

According to Carlson, who signed one letter to Brown’s camp to hold a debate in Worcester, individuals from all sides have asked Brown to face Warren in a public debate.

“I think it’s critical and I’m very disappointed that the people in Worcester are not going to have that opportunity,” she said. When asked whether she thought that Scott Brown supporters in Worcester were still pushing for a local debate, she said, “I would think, that’s the reason why – it was the Chamber, it was myself, the Consortium, the Republican Party… we all signed onto that letter inviting them to come to the Hanover Theatre for the debate because we believe it’s good for Worcester and the people who live here.”

While both candidates have turned down other debates for partisan reasons, this debate would have been an evenly sponsored event.

GoLocalWorcester also invited the two candidates to come debate in Worcester, but Brown also declined the offer.

In a letter sent to Brown’s campaign manager, Jim Barnett, GoLocalWorcester CEO Josh Fenton suggested the venue of Mechanics Hall, where the Senator kicked off his re-election campaign.  

“This important discussion will focus on critical issues relating to the people of Central Massachusetts. The panelists asking questions will be mutually agreed to by the campaigns and will include members of the local media,” Fenton's letter read. “Certainly, the voters of Central Massachusetts will benefit from hearing the Senator and Ms. Warren discuss important and timely issues.”

In the response, the campaign’s scheduler said that Brown’s list of debates has been finalized.

“I would like to see a debate. It’s an importing voting area in Central Mass,” said Tammy Berthiaume, chair of the Leicester republican town committee. She said she was unsure why Brown would decline a local debate. “I assume this has to do with a vigorous campaign schedule for an incumbent. It would be nice, but I don’t think it’s a deal breaker.”

Warren’s Missed Meetings

Treasurer of the Worcester Republican City Committee, Christopher Pinto agreed that there are already enough debates scheduled, but also said that Warren has missed some herself.

“While a Worcester debate would be nice, there are enough debates already scheduled to allow the voters to make an informed choice. Senator Brown's opponent fails to mention that she refused to show up for a debate on Dan Rea's radio show. Senator Brown took questions without her,” he said.

Pinto says that Warren’s failure to meet with a Cherokee group that traveled to Mass to meet her was another event she should have attended.

“What is more important than a Worcester debate is how Senator Brown's opponent refused to meet with a group of Cherokees that traveled all the way to Massachusetts to ask her for some answer on her heritage claims,” he said. “Yet she continues to refuse to give them any answers. If she won't meet with these folks, how can we trust her in Washington DC?”

Worcester Deserves It

Many Brown supporters are saying that while they would like to see a debate in the area, having it in Worcester is not a must.

When asked what she would say to her challenger to entice a local debate, Elizabeth Warren said, “I would say let’s have a debate in Worcester. I do not know why he will not have a debate in Worcester. There are important regional issues we should be talking about here and the people of Worcester have the right to see both candidates up close and personal, see them answer tough questions and make up their minds.”

Warren was also asked what she would do to combat the area’s historically Republican vote.

“I will be out talking to people about what’s happening to them over the past few years. Let’s start with jobs. People have lost jobs all over this commonwealth,” she said. “Scott Brown and every Republicans voted against three jobs bills in a row. People know where he stands on jobs. They know he’s not standing with them. Scott Brown has made it clear that he stands with big money and big power. I’m out there for working people.”

Member of the local Republican Town Committee in Millbury, Jeff Raymond says that although he would like to see a local debate, that outcome won’t affect bigger issues, like whether or not the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

“I definitely think it would be nice to have a more local debate, but considering Brown has agreed to six debates up to this point, I'm not terribly concerned about it,” he said. Raymond added that with the availability of debates via television and radio, residents won’t be missing out.

Worcester Media’s “Black Hole”

Pinto believes that another element to this lack of debate in the Heart of the Commonwealth is Worcester’s lack of a media scene.

“No offense meant to my many friends in the Worcester media but while Worcester is a the second largest city in New England it is a ‘media black hole’ compared to other smaller New England cities,” he said. “It is not like the John Kerry single debate that he gave to Jeff Beatty during a New England Patriots Monday night football game.”


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