In Advertisement, Retired Athletes Endorse Scott Brown

Several retired Boston athletes became the latest group to endorse U.S. Senator Scott Brown in his reelection campaign for Massachusetts’ junior Senate seat in a new television advertisement released Wednesday. Calling Brown a team player in Washington, the former Celtics and Patriots stars argued Brown deserves another term.

“It seems to me, what we need are independent thinkers who will vote their consciousness, not their party,” former NBA Most Valuable Player Bob Cousy said in the advertisement. “That’s why on my 84th birthday, I am very pleased to endorse the return to Washington of Senator Scott Brown. He’s my most valuable player.”

Boston political consultants said the ad fits into a broader narrative that has emerged from Brown’s campaign. Running in a state as deeply blue as Massachusetts, the Republican senator has had to fashion himself as an independent common man to woo politically independent male voters and socially conservative Democrats, consultants said.

“This is a case where given the voter registration dominance by Democrats in Massachusetts, it’s hard to run an issues-oriented or an ideological campaign, so he’s trying to win with a personality campaign,” said Joseph D. Malone ’78, a Republican political strategist and former Massachusetts Congressional candidate.

The strategy worked for Brown during the special election he won in 2010, said former Boston City Councillor Lawrence S. DiCara ’71. During that campaign Brown caught the attention of dissatisfied Democratic voters with his easygoing persona, political independence, and pickup truck. Unlike then-opponent Mass. Attorney General Martha M. Coakley, who seemed stiff and out of touch, Brown promised likability and political independence.

After two years in Congress in which he built up a bipartisan reputation, DiCara said Brown is putting the strategy to work again, though the circumstances are different. Presidential election years historically drive up voter turnout, which in Massachusetts means more Democratic votes.

“My guess is he needs those voters who have been, through the years, known as Reagan Democrats—people who might vote their party in the presidential election, thus giving Obama a landslide victory in Massachusetts,” Malone said. “But at the same time saying he seems like the boy next door, like the guy I could have a beer with. The guy I can trust.”

Those Reagan Democrats, experts said, are often white, socially conservative males. With Brown’s Democratic opponent, Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren, polling well among women, the stakes are high.

“Some of the more macho ads with sports figures and trucks are the way to get the so-called Reagan Democrats,” DiCara said. “It is a swing demographic—middle American people, mostly white, mostly Catholic, who will vote either way and have no great loyalty to either party.”

Brown, who played basketball in school, has previously run advertisements showing him on the basketball court or in athletic attire.

Democratic political consultant Dan Payne said Brown’s “jock” reputation has all but secured the vote of that constituency.

“He’s probably got them. I don’t think he has to go find them. What he may want to do is just remind them that he is the guy who they supported two years ago in the special election,” Payne said.

—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at nicholasfandos@college.harvard.edu.

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