As the Massachusetts senate election approaches on Nov. 6, it promises to be a close race between incumbent Sen. Scott Brown (R) and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.
Brown promises to be an “independent thinker,” while Warren champions the middle class and families. The two agreed on no third-party ads, but the tone of the race has gotten personal. Brown has disparaged Warren’s claims to Cherokee heritage and record in asbestos litigation. Warren has taken Brown to task for his voting record, which including voting against three jobs bills because they included tax increases.
Warren received an endorsement from President Barack Obama last week. While it is not surprising for a Democratic president to support his party’s candidate, few senate candidates receive presidential approval.
Several issues highlight the differences between Warren and Brown.
Brown voiced his continued opposition to the DREAM Act at the second debate in Springfield. “I am in favor of full legal immigration. I don’t support the DREAM Act. It’s a form of back door amnesty,” he said.
The DREAM Act would have granted conditional permanent residency to undocumented residents who came to the United States as minors. If they were to complete two years in the military or two years at a four-year institution, they would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Within the six-year period, they would be eligible for permanent residency if they earned a degree or were honorably discharged from military service.
Warren favors the idea, saying it was the “right” thing to do. “I would strongly support the DREAM Act,” she said. “We need comprehensive immigration reform.”
Brown’s voting record on employment was questioned by Warren.
“Sen. Brown last fall voted against three jobs bills in a row, jobs bills that would have put 22,000 people — supported 22,000 jobs here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts — a jobs bill that would have prevented the layoffs of teachers, firefighters and police officers,” Warren said.
Brown defended himself for tax reasons. “Three jobs bills she refers to, with all due respect, would have raised your taxes $450 billion.”
Brown staunchly opposes tax increases. “I’m not going to raise taxes. I’m going to protect the pocketbooks and wallets of everybody listening,” he said.
Warren favors taxing the rich and waiving taxes for the middle class. “Sen. (Brown) has voted to let taxes go up on hardworking families,” she said. “He has said he will defend the top 2 percent and top 3 percent so that they don’t have to go back to the tax rates of the Clinton years. And he will hold the other 98 percent of families hostage.”
Warren has attacked Brown for not supporting women’s rights. “He’s had exactly one chance to vote for equal pay for equal work, and he voted no,” she said in the second debate. “He had exactly one chance to vote for insurance coverage for birth control and other preventive services for women. He voted no. And he had exactly one chance to vote for a pro-choice woman — from Massachusetts — to the United States Supreme Court, and he voted no.”
Brown does not oppose abortion, but did introduce an amendment that would have exempted medical workers from supplying the morning-after pill to rape victims on religious grounds. The amendment did not pass.
Warren’s Background, Track Record
Brown maintains that Warren favors big business, due to her work for Travelers Insurance for asbestos-poisoning victims. Warren denies that she prevented workers from claiming benefits, but in fact sought to ensure they were fairly compensated.
The case went before the Supreme Court, with the insurance company required to pay the victims from a $500 million trust. The ruling was later overturned in a lower court, when Warren was no longer on the case.
Brown has accused Warren for falsely claiming Native American heritage and “got ahead” for being a minority. Warren has responded that she knew about her ancestry through family anecdotes and did not ask for documentation.
Warren did mark her ancestry as Native American, but said it did not advance her education or career.
Party affiliation: Republican
Experience: Senator since 2010, real estate attorney, town selectman and assessor
Party affiliation: Democrat
Experience: Harvard Law School professor, American bankruptcy law expert, interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau