U.S. Sen. Scott Brown on Thursday traveled into the heart of deeply blue Dorchester, sitting down with a friendly audience of blue collar workers at an excavation company’s headquarters near Fields Corner.
“Even if you’re an ardent Democrat, he hasn’t done enough to be fired from the job,” said Brendan Feeney, president and co-founder of Feeney Brothers Excavation Corporation, which hosted the Wrentham Republican at its Clayton St. offices.
“We vote the person, not the party,” added his brother, Greg, the vice president.
Both of them described themselves as independents and said they’ve also voted for Democrats like Congressman Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston) and state Rep. Marty Walsh (D-Dorchester).
Brown briefly spoke to the group of 40 people, many of them wearing yellow vests and holding hard hats in their laps, and interspersed talk of his hardscrabble biography and votes in the Senate with shots at his opponent, Democratic candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Brown also played up his Massachusetts roots, saying he was raised in the Bay State and he is “probably going to die here.”
“She’s not from here,” Brown said, referring to Warren’s upbringing in Oklahoma.
Brown touted the support of former Mayor Ray Flynn, a South Boston Democrat, and said he welcomed supporters from the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Green Party or “if you just like to party.”
Asked by one member of the audience about rising tuition costs, Brown blasted Warren, saying the Harvard Law School professor is “part of the problem” and claiming her salary approached $400,000 for one class.
Pressed on lifting property tax exemptions for universities and colleges in Boston, Brown demurred, saying it was “more of a local issue.” Brown said Mayor Thomas Menino has pressed for increased payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT), adding, “it hasn’t reached our level, really.”
After Brown left, the audience migrated to a spread of pizza, calzones and crackers. “He puts himself in your shoes,” said Kenny Williams, an Adams Village resident. “He’s not afraid to go against the grain.”
Despite the warm show of support Brown received, Dorchester is likely to go for Warren in November, as it did for the Democratic candidate in the 2010 special election, Martha Coakley. Brown picked up support in the Neponset neighborhood, winning four precincts in Ward 16.
Brown’s Thursday afternoon visit came 48 hours after his opponent Elizabeth Warren dropped in to meet and greet supporters at the Harp and Bard on Dorchester Ave.
In a press availability outside the restaurant, Warren sought to tie Brown to Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, a Republican ticket that will likely lose by a wide margin in Massachusetts, where President Obama is popular.
“I don’t think this is about parties,” Warren said. “I think this is really about whose side you stand on. Not in a political sense but in the sense of the vision for how we build this country going forward. Right now, Scott Brown, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have all said we’ve got to protect tax breaks, special deals, subsidies for the wealthiest Americans and for the biggest corporations and we have to do that at any cost, no matter what the effects are on working families. I believe that’s fundamentally wrong.”
Warren added: “I’m in this race because I believe that America’s working families are on the ropes and they can’t take much more. And the Romney-Ryan-Brown approach is a punch in the gut to them.”