By Douglas Moser
As Republican Sen. Scott Brown picked up a handful of endorsements from moderate to conservative Democrats and independents last week, several of those supporters said their decisions were at least partly influenced by a basic gesture: Brown asked for them.
Locally, former Democratic state Rep. Arthur Broadhurst of Methuen announced at Mann Orchard in Methuen on Thursday that he would support Brown over the senator's likely Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren. Later that day, Brown traveled to Westford and Leominster to pick up endorsements by former Democratic state Rep. Geoff Hall, former Democratic state Sen. Bob Antonioni and current independent Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella.
All four men said that Brown or his staff had contacted them seeking their support.
"Like (former U.S. House Speaker) Tip O'Neill said, you've got to ask people for their vote. Scott asked me for my vote," said Hall, who now is an attorney in Westford. "As he's going across the state, he's asking a lot of people."
Broadhurst said in an email after the event Thursday that no one else had contacted him seeking an endorsement, and both Hall and Mazzarella said they had not been contacted by the Warren camp either.
"I didn't hear from her," said Mazzarella, who said he has supported both Democrats and Republicans in the past. "I think sometimes people make an assumption that you're going to support someone in a particular way."
Antonioni, now an attorney in Leominster, said he worked with Brown in the state Senate. Brown asked him for an endorsement during a social conversation on another matter, he said. The Warren campaign did not reach out for support.
Last Monday, former Boston Mayor Ray Flynn and former Worcester Mayor and current City Councilor Konnie Lukes, both Democrats, endorsed Brown. Flynn also has endorsed former Gov. Mitt Romney for president.
Warren's campaign did not respond to a request seeking comment Thursday and Friday.
Several Merrimack Valley Democrats said they would support the Democratic nominee — although they said they were not contacted for support.
Warren will face Middleton attorney Marisa DeFranco in the party primary on Sept. 6.
"I have met both candidates and they are both likable and capable," state Rep. Linda Dean Campbell, D-Methuen, said of Brown and Warren. "Although I frequently cross the aisle at the State House, I will be supporting Elizabeth Warren. My reason is she is not afraid and very capable of taking on the Wall Street bankers that brought our nation's economy to its knees."
Campbell said she had not been contacted by either Brown's or Warren's teams.
State Rep. David Torrisi, D-North Andover, said he, like Hall, served with Brown in the State House and liked him personally. But the national implications for the race, where the outcome here could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate, trump Brown's likability and moderation.
"I'm a moderate Democrat, and I work well with guys like (state Senate Minority Leader) Bruce Tarr and (state House minority leader) Brad Jones," Torrisi said. "But their views would be out of step with the national Republicans, especially on social issues. And that majority would be bad for Massachusetts."
Conversely, Hall and Mazzarella worried that Warren may be too partisan, given the deadlocked environment in Washington.
"Right now we're at a standstill (in Congress)," Mazzarella said. "There are more people who want to join that mentality to stop things from getting done."
Many of the other Democrats who came out for Brown said that they did not know as much about Warren, a consumer advocate and professor at Harvard University who had spent the last two years in Washington advising President Obama, but thought she was very capable and smart.
"She seems like a very intelligent person, and has varied experiences," Antonioni said. "I'm sure she'll be a tough candidate."
Hall acknowledged that Brown has his work cut out for him as a Republican and has to be aggressive in courting some Democratic and independent support in order to win.
"He may be an incumbent, but as a Republican in this state it's very difficult," he said. "Without getting the support of some Democrats and the independents, they have a tough time."
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