Scott Brown walking back jobs bill vote?

The new Massachusetts Republican infuriated tea partiers by voting for a Democratic jobs bill. Does he regret it?

Published February 24, 2010 3:25PM (EST)

New Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown's vote this week for a procedural motion on a Democratic jobs bill didn't exactly endear him to the tea partiers who were cheering his election on last month.

"I don't know Scott," one comment -- out of more than 2,800 -- on his Facebook page began. "It sounds like alot of progressive talk to me! The honeymoon is over Scott you better vote for all AMERICANS NOT JUST YOUR STATE OR YOU ARE NO BETTER THAN THE OTHERS THAT TOOK SHADEY DEALS UNDER THE TABLE!"

That was one of the calmer ones. "i want my money back!" another read. "FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY? just another typical hypocritical, lying, big-spending politician." The Boston press lapped it all up

Which may explain the vaguely defensive statement Brown put out early Wednesday morning. UPDATE: Just as Brown put out his statement, the Senate voted 70-28 to pass the jobs bill and send it to the House. (Which means eight Republicans who voted against it earlier this week voted for passing it.)

"We need to put partisanship aside to put people back to work," he said. "This jobs bill is far from perfect, and ideally would include deeper and broader tax cuts. I supported this measure because it does contain some tax relief that will help Massachusetts businesses put people back to work. Right now, this is a tax-cutting bill. But if it comes back to the Senate [after conference with the House] full of pork, waste, fraud and abuse, I reserve the right to vote against it.”

The vote, and the backlash, and Brown's attempt to control it, all underscore the difficult position he's in representing Massachusetts in the Senate as a Republican. If Brown wants to win a full six-year term in 2012, he'll have to vote for Democratic measures every now and then, especially on issues like jobs and the economy that he made the basis of his campaign. But his surprise appearance at CPAC last week -- where he introduced Mitt Romney and referred to himself frequently and proudly as a Republican -- shows he also wants to keep the conservative base that helped power his victory from deserting him altogether. Brown may become, over the next few years, a walking, talking battlefield in the GOP's ongoing war between the far right activists who want to purify the party and the old-line Republicans who don't mind some ideological flexibility if it means they win seats like his. It'll be interesting to see where he lands in the fight on any given day.

By Mike Madden

Mike Madden is Salon's Washington correspondent. A complete listing of his articles is here. Follow him on Twitter here.

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