Some observers say he will use those efforts to present himself to the Democratic state as a different kind of candidate than Romney.
“Scott Brown has to sell himself as very different from Mitt Romney,” said Jeffrey Berry, a political science professor at Tufts University. “He will have to convey that he’s one of the few people left in American politics who’s willing to cross party lines and be that moderate voice so missing in American politics right now.”
Brown was an early endorser of Romney’s presidential campaign. But a Romney victory in the Massachusetts Republican primary Tuesday was a forgone conclusion — he took more than 72 percent of the vote — which meant that Brown did not need stump for him in in the state in recent weeks.
With the Senate in session, Brown was in Washington on Tuesday and did not attend Romney’s Super Tuesday rally in Boston.
As many as 800,000 more residents are expected to vote in November than took part in the special election that Brown won. Many of them are Democrats who support Obama’s reelection.
To win, Brown probably would have to persuade several hundred thousand people who vote for Obama to cross party lines and support him for the Senate.
With those voters in mind, he is pitching his independence — in contrast to Romney, who has been trying to frame his tenure as Massachusetts governor as “severely conservative.”
“I don’t worry about the party line. I don’t get caught up in petty fights,” Brown told a crowd in Worcester in January as he began his reelection effort.
But in the face of an effort by Warren to nationalize the race, Brown may find it more difficult to distance himself from his fellow Massachusetts Republican than he would from a different nominee.
Warren — who will compete in a primary for the Democratic nomination in September, although no Democrat has mounted a serious challenge — will say that Democrats who support Obama should vote against Brown. Her argument is that a vote for Brown would help Republicans take over the Senate and thwart the president’s agenda — Brown and Romney are no different, she says.
Last week, for instance, her campaign highlighted Brown’s support for a controversial amendment in the Senate that would allow employers to avoid providing insurance coverage for contraception if they hold moral objections to it.
Democrats thin that Warren, who helped create the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, is the perfect messenger in a campaign that they think will revolve, nationally and in Massachusetts, around restoring a balance between the middle class and corporations and the wealthy. A well-known figure on the left, she is likely to receive support from Democrats nationwide, although Brown starts with a significantly larger campaign war chest than Warren.
“The easiest way to tie somebody to something is with their own words. Scott Brown’s endorsement of Mitt Romney, his long history, their shared staffers and advisers — there’s a close tie between these two guys,” said John Walsh, chairman of the state Democratic Party.
But there are some areas in which Brown could easily draw distinctions with the former governor: He supports abortion rights, favors stem-cell research and backed ending the military’s “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gay service members.
Enraging many conservatives, Brown supported the Dodd-Frank financial legislation, which all of the Republican presidential candidates have vowed to repeal.
And while Romney struggles to overcome a reputation as a stiff campaigner uncomfortable with his wealth, Brown has an appealing personal story of overcoming a hardscrabble childhood. He famously drives a pickup truck and wears a barn coat.
When Romney awkwardly told a group of voters in Michigan last week that his wife, Ann, drives “a couple of Cadillacs,” a spokesman for presidential rival Newt Gingrich invoked Brown’s name to mock the former Massachusetts governor.
“Just doesn’t have the same Scott Brown ring to it,” R.C. Hammond tweeted.
Some Massachusetts strategists said Brown’s plan to focus on state issues might be made easier, ironically, by the lack of a competitive presidential race in the state. Because Obama is expected to win Massachusetts easily, all the electoral excitement in the state will focus almost exclusively on the Senate contest.
“Massachusetts voters understand the presidential election is not in doubt in the state. The focus will be on the Senate,” said Rob Gray, a Boston-based Republican strategist who worked for Romney when he was governor. “It could be awkward, but Scott will do what he has to do to distance himself. And depending on the dynamics of the race, it may come to transpire that he does not have to distance himself that much.”