BOSTON — Senator Scott Brown voted Tuesday morning in his hometown of Wrentham, Massachusetts, then made a few stops around Boston to greet volunteers and voters at polling places. In West Roxbury, Brown’s bus — he’s not in his signature pickup this Election Day — pulled up to the Holy Name Parish School, where supporters of him and of Elizabeth Warren were out in force, waving signs in the rotary.
Brown wore a barn coat, sweater, and jeans, and his wife Gail Huff, a television reporter who took time off for her husband’s campaign, handed out candy to the assembled reporters and voters.
“It’s very simple,” Brown said. “We have to get more votes than the other.”
His supporters cheered: “People over party!” Cars honked with approval in the rotary.
But on the same polling site, Brown was faced with his most frustrating obstacle as a candidate: the blue-collar men who align with him culturally, but who are staying loyal Democrats this year. A large contingent of union members were waiting for Brown, and they were fired up.
When Brown approached them, one union member yelled, “Pack your bags, buddy!” Others joined in the jeering: “Down with Brown!”
Brown, on the sidewalk, for a split second with no staff or his wife around him, looked genuinely disappointed.
“Really, guys?” he said. “I’m a 26-year union member and you’re busting my chops?” (Brown is a member of the Screen Actors Guild).
“You think she has anything in common with you?” Brown said, referring to Warren. It came out sounding more like a statement than a question.
He shook a few more hands and turned around to get back in his bus.
The workers, members of the Sheet Metal Workers, started packing up their trucks to leave and go sign-wave at the next location ordained by their higher-ups. One, dressed in a similar outfit to Brown, got a big laugh as he opened his truck’s door: “How do you like this? The barn coat and the pickup truck!” One of them, named Neil, yelled at a Republican tracker taking video of the Democrats: “Yeah, this is a working man’s truck. Get a picture of it.”
Brown’s everyman appeal — the truck, the accent, the basketball photo ops — has seemed like his best bet for winning in Massachusetts against Warren, whose liberal values align with most of the state’s electorate but who has come across as chilly and elitist at times. Brown may still win — the race is a nail-biter. A Boston Herald poll last week showed him ahead by a point, though other polls have shown him a few points behind. But as Charlie Pierce points out, his numbers in two blue-collar bellwether areas, Waltham and Gloucester, are worrying. If he can’t win over the same guys that are naturally a part of his milieu, his shot at victory in the solid blue state looks slimmer.
One Brown supporter on the scene, Charles Grillo, 38, doubted that the union members were even really voting for Warren, though.
“Oh, I think they’re going to vote Brown,” Grillo said. “I think they’re just putting on a front.”