WASHINGTON — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, the only incumbent senator to lose re-election this fall, is urging his party to make a stronger push for support from women, minorities and moderates like himself.
Brown, returning to the Senate for the first session since last week’s election, said Tuesday that he hopes Republicans will be more tolerant and open-minded.
“We need to be a larger tent party,” he told reporters during his first press conference since losing to Democratic Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren. “I’m a pro-choice moderate Republican.”
Brown says moderates such as himself and retiring GOP Sen. Olympia Snowe, of Maine, are a vanishing breed in Washington, D.C., despite sometimes playing a key role in bridging the partisan divide.
“The group in the middle is vanishing,” he said.
Brown, whose victory in a 2010 special election for the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat stunned Democrats, was asked if he would run again for Senate if Democratic Sen. John Kerry gets tapped for a Cabinet slot or would run for governor in 2014 because Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick has said he won’t seek a third term.
“I have a job to do right now, and there’s not an opening for governor and there’s not an opening for senator,” he said. “But there is an opening for a dad and a husband, and that’s the role I want to play.”
Patrick was quizzed by reporters in Boston about the possibility of yet another special Senate election. He said that it’s too soon say whether he would require anyone he appoints to an open Senate seat on an interim basis to agree not to run in a special election to fill the seat permanently.
“We don’t have a vacancy yet,” he said.
After Kennedy, who had held the seat for decades, died in 2009, Patrick named Paul Kirk to fill it until a special election could be held.
At the time, Patrick made the appointment with the understanding that Kirk would not run in the special election, which Brown later won, defeating Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley.
“As a practical matter, if a special election is held quickly it’s hard to imagine an interim appointee being able to do that job and run for office at the same time,” Patrick said.
Patrick also said he would prefer a system in which the person he appointed would serve until the next statewide election in 2014, but he said he didn’t anticipate any change in the current law.
“That’s the way a lot of states do it,” he said. “I wish it were that way here, but I don’t think anybody has any appetite to change it again. I don’t. We’ve got other things to do.”
State lawmakers have changed the Senate succession laws twice in recent years.
In 2004, Democratic lawmakers revoked the governor’s power to fill Senate vacancies, fearing then-Gov. Mitt Romney might appoint a fellow Republican if Kerry won his campaign for the presidency. Instead, they created a five-month special election campaign and beat back GOP efforts that year and in 2006 to bridge any such vacancy with a temporary appointment.
Then in 2009, Kennedy, just five days before he died of brain cancer, sent letters to Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray and House Speaker Robert DeLeo urging them to amend the succession law again to allow the governor to name an interim replacement. Kennedy was worried his death would deprive President Obama, a Democrat, of the Senate votes he needed to pass his health care bill.
The Legislature complied.