Conservatives cheered when freshly minted Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) promised to be a “new breed of Republican,” but it doesn’t seems like this is what they had in mind.
On one of his first major votes, Brown split with his party Monday to support a cloture motion on the $15 billion Democratic “jobs bill,” defeating an attempted Republican filibuster in a final tally of 62-30.
Conservatives and Tea Partiers were furious, hurling at him an array of insults they traditionally reserve for liberal Democrats or Republicans they believe have committed heresy.
Brown hedged his bets is a statement explaining his vote, calling the bill imperfect but reaffirming his desire to govern in a bipartisan manner.
“I came to Washington to be an independent voice, to put politics aside, and to do everything in my power to help create jobs for Massachusetts families,” Brown said. “This Senate jobs bill is not perfect. I wish the tax cuts were deeper and broader, but I voted for it because it contains measures that will help put people back to work.”
But his Facebook fans, whom he re-posted the statement to, were having none of it. “Rot, liar!” read one of thousands of angry comments that followed, another of which said, “You were not elected to vote like a lib. Bet you aren’t reelected traitor!”
“SHAME ON YOU, SCOTT BROWN!” read a third. “YOU LIED! SHAME!! NO MORE RINOS!!!”
The ensuing headline on the conservative-leaning Drudge Report displayed an image of Brown with red eyes and scarlet undertones. One Daily Kos blogger said it was an attempt to “make him look like Satan.”
While filibustering health care reform was signature to Brown’s platform, he also said he’d work with Democrats on other issues. But the ferociously negative conservative reaction toward him will likely cause some worries among his staffers.
A favorite of the fiery Tea Party crowd not long ago, Brown will as a senator face a series of tough calls when balancing the wishes of his progressive Massachusetts constituency and the staunch conservatives that dominates the Republican Party.
The jobs bill relies on a combination of tax credits and targeted business incentives to boost employment and stave off job losses.
Brown wasn’t alone in bucking party line as Republican Sens. Susan Collins (ME), Olympia Snowe (ME), George Voinovich (OH) and Kit Bond (MO) — the latter two of whom are retiring — also joined with Democrats to end debate and move the legislation forward.
Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson (NE) voted with the GOP to filibuster.