Brown builds a network on road

Trips for GOP could help fill 2012 war chest

By Matt Viser
Globe Staff / October 4, 2010

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WASHINGTON — Senator Scott Brown has been hopscotching the country, using his high profile to help fellow Republicans fill their campaign coffers. But these missions help him with another goal: introducing himself to the GOP elite in key cities across the country and building his own national fund-raising network for his expected 2012 reelection bid.

Brown is visiting such pockets of Republican cash as Orange County, Calif.; Cincinnati; and Bellevue, Wash. By the end of the year, he will have helped raise money in nearly half of the top 20 fund-raising locales in the country.

He is also accumulating political chits that he can cash in next year. If the candidates he is backing now win their elections, they would probably help him raise money in 2012. Interviews with campaign aides and contributors indicate Brown will get a warm reception when he returns with his own request for money.

“Orange County is like a bank for politicians from around the country,’’ said Dale Dykema, a chief executive of a foreclosure services company who cohosted a fund-raiser in California that Brown headlined last month. “It would not surprise me at all to see him come back here.’’

For his special election campaign to succeed the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy in January, Brown traveled little on fund-raising missions.

He caught fire only in the last few weeks of the campaign, attracting national media attention and an accompanying spurt of small-dollar donations in response to “money bombs’’ his campaign used on the Internet. In the final stretch to his Jan. 19 victory, about 70 percent of his contributors were from outside Massachusetts, according to a Globe analysis.

But in 2012, Brown will face a far different landscape. His campaign will be one of dozens, forcing him to compete for attention and money. If Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, runs for president again, he will be tapping many of the same networks as Brown.

“Given how much demand there will be for money in 2012, he definitely needs to expand his donor base to be prepared,’’ said Dennis Hale, a political science professor at Boston College. “The person who challenges him two years from now . . . will be a candidate who almost certainly will get lots and lots of support from the national parties and Democrats in the state.’’

Brown declined a request for an interview to discuss fund-raising.

“Scott Brown’s focus right now is not on his own reelection,’’ said Eric Fehrnstrom, a top Brown adviser. “It’s on helping candidates in Massachusetts and elsewhere who are committed to making America stronger economically and restoring fiscal sanity in Washington.’’

Brown so far has also not formed a leadership political action committee, something most high-profile politicians do in order to raise money that they can then donate to other candidates. One of the reasons, aides say, is that Brown would be unable to use money donated to his leadership PAC for his own campaign.

Brown has proved adept at fund-raising in Boston’s financial sector, but the city is still known as an ATM for Democratic contenders, not Republicans, increasing the demand for out-of-state support.

In Orange County, Dykema said one of the two GOP organizations — the Lincoln Club of Orange County and the New Majority — would probably invite Brown to speak, and make his appearance coincide with a fund-raiser for his reelection campaign.

“He’s a very, very personable, good-looking, very articulate guy,’’ Dykema said. “I was very, very impressed by him. I wasn’t so much prepared to be. Not that I thought he would be a flash in the pan; I just wasn’t sure there was an awful lot of substance there. If he genuinely wants to stay involved as a senator or even further aspirations, he’s got a future ahead of him.’’

In Bellevue, Wash., Brown was the keynote speaker in a room full of doctors, lawyers, farmers, and a former governor. The event, to benefit Dino Rossi, the US Senate Republican nominee, brought about 400 people.

“Scott Brown is loved out here,’’ said Fredi Simpson, a National Republican Committee member who attended the fund-raiser. “We like to tease that you need to bring your Bible and your guns when you come. But even my groups love Scott Brown. He was refreshing, he was approachable, he didn’t have this political arrogant attitude.’’

Brown has campaigned for only a handful of House candidates, often targeting areas that are known for raising Republican money.

“Scott Brown was very well received in Columbus and made a lot of friends here,’’ said John Damschroder, a spokesman for Ohio Republican congressional nominee Steve Stivers. “I am sure that will be beneficial to him when his own campaign begins.’’

Brown’s fund-raising abilities could also deter would-be challengers. He has $6.5 million on hand right now, far more than any other Massachusetts politician, including Senator John F. Kerry, who has $2.9 million, and significantly more than potential challengers.

Marty Meehan, the former congressman who left to become chancellor of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, has $4.8 million in his account. Representative Edward J. Markey, a Malden Democrat and dean of the delegation, has $3.4 million; Representative Stephen F. Lynch, a South Boston Democrat, has $1.1 million. Representative Michael Capuano, who lost in last year’s US Senate Democratic primary and is running unopposed for his congressional seat, has $32,933.

Matt Viser can be reached at