As the Massachusetts Senate special election wraps up, a couple of unsavory right-wing groups are coming to Republican candidate Scott Brown's aid -- underscoring just how conservative the GOP nominee who's suddenly causing Bay State Democrats to panic really is.
Brown was endorsed Wednesday by Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, one of the most aggressive organizations against illegal immigration in the country (the group runs a Web page where it encourages people to "report illegal immigrants, employers that hire illegal labor, and smugglers"). Officials say ALIPAC is backing Brown "due to his campaign's focus on the issue of the illegal immigration." The endorsement may not be entirely welcome news; the Southern Poverty Law Center points out that the group is aligned with the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which the SPLC claims is a hate group. (FAIR vehemently disputes that charge.)
Another group on the SPLC's list, MassResistance, is also urging its ideological allies to vote for Brown. A blatantly anti-gay organization, MassResistance says Democratic candidate Martha Coakley's "enthusiastic support of [the] radical homosexual/transgender agenda" is reason enough to oppose her -- though the group worries Brown is moving to the left to try to win independents. "Let's hope the election comes quickly, before Brown morphs into a Republican Barney Frank," says an analysis of the race on the MassResistance Web site. But the group still says Brown is "the best man" for the Senate seat.
A Brown campaign aide didn't immediately return a phone call about the endorsements. And it doesn't appear the campaign solicited the help from either group.
But the support from fringe groups does underscore the point national Democrats and labor groups have been trying to make about Brown over the last week, as they leap to rescue Coakley's campaign: he's far too conservative for Massachusetts voters. The type of moderate Republicans who nearly beat John Kerry and Ted Kennedy in previous elections (Bill Weld, pre-presidential politics Mitt Romney) didn't take positions that won them much sympathy from groups like MassResistance or ALIPAC. "When you lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas," one Democratic operative said. Then again, remembering how conservative Brown is also shows how mystifying it is that the race is this close.
This story has been <a href="/letters/corrections/2010/index.html#brown">corrected</a> since it was originally published.