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Brown and Warren Court Big-Name Endorsements

Saturday, October 20, 2012

 

Both Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren trotted out big name endorsements this week, which observers say can provide important information about a candidate to undecided voters.

Endorsements Pile Up

Warren secured the backing of President Barack Obama, Republican and former FDIC Chairperson Sheila Bair and Minnesota Senator Al Franken, as well as Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke who gained public notice earlier this year when House Republicans barred her from testifying at a hearing on access to contraception.

“I have never endorsed a Democrat, but I know Elizabeth well, and I know she will be independent. We need people who are independent in Washington, people who will vote the public interest,” said Bair.

Franken was scheduled to spend Friday and Saturday on the campaign trail with Warren, making stops around the state in Lexington, Cambridge, Worcester, Springfield and Southbridge.

Arizona Senator John McCain, who formally endorsed Brown last month, with join the Massachusetts Republican for a rally in Melrose on Saturday.

"Scott understands the challenges we face, and he has the experience, wisdom and the temperament to influence the choices our nation makes," he said in a statement.

The Brown campaign also rolled out a new web video featuring former Republican Governor of Massachusetts Paul Cellucci.

"I see Scott as what I call a Weld-Cellucci Republican: someone who is moderate on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues, but always willing to work with Republicans and Democrats to find solutions for problems that are facing our country," Cellucci said.

"And that's exactly what we need in the United States Senate from Massachusetts. In fact, I would say we need more people, desperately need more people, like Scott Brown in the Congress of the United States where it gets more polarized each year - Republicans always voting Republican, the Democrats always voting Democratic."

Getting a Boost

The value of such endorsements can vary based on who the candidate is and who is endorsing them, said Morgan Marietta, an assistant professor of Political Science at UMass-Lowell.

"The less known a candidate is and the more known the endorser is, the more effective it can be," he said.

"Expected endorsements like President Obama's of Warren are less influential than unexpected ones coming from across party lines."

Brown has kept his distance from the national Republican party, which limits the range of big names in the GOP he can bring in.

"It is no coincidence that Brown is gravitating to John McCain, who is also known for the kind of bi-partisan cooperation that is a centerpiece of Brown's campaign," said Marietta.

Meanwhile, Warren has embraced the national stage and party and has picked up support from Washington to the Midwest.

But Karyn Polito, a former Republican state representative from Shrewsbury and 2010 candidate for state treasurer, released a statement on Friday criticizing Warren's decision to campaign with Franken, who she called a "walking poster-boy for misogyny" for the Saturday Night Live alum's lewd humor.

"Elizabeth Warren needs to use this occasion to make it clear to Al Franken that his comments are out of line and not funny at all," she said.

Rallying the Base, But Undecideds Still Out

Robert Boatright, an associate professor of Political Science at Clark University, said figures like Franken and McCain will draw crowds, but they will do little to change the dynamics of the race.

"The Sheila Bair event was an interesting idea; it seemed like Warren’s attempt to play Brown’s game and show that she, too, could get support from the other party," he said.

"But I think it’s too late in the race to make a real difference, and Sheila Bair isn’t really a household name."

With less than three weeks to Election Day, high-profile endorsements from across the aisle are the only ones likely to have much of an effect on the highly-contested race, said Jennifer Lawless, director of the Women & Politics Institute at American University.

"A prominent Democrat endorsing Brown, for example, could matter. But general run of the mill endorsements do litle other than energize the base." 

 

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