If you wanted an indication that Scott Brown was in any way nervous about his impending re-election matchup against Elizabeth Warren next year, check out this – he has now officially endorsed Richard Cordray to run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency that was the brainchild of his future opponent.
The decision is a break from Republican leaders, GOP candidates for president, and rank-and-file members, who have denounced both the structure of the bureau and the overarching Dodd-Frank regime of government regulations on Wall Street. Early in the summer, 44 Republicans vowed to filibuster the nomination of any director unless the new bureau is overhauled and Congress is granted more oversight. Last week, Nevada Senator Dean Heller added his name to the list.
Brown, who bucked his party in supporting the Dodd-Frank laws in 2010, was one of two Republicans who did not sign the letter.
“The senator supports the Cordray nomination and believes it deserves an up or down vote on the Senate floor,” spokesman John Donnelly said yesterday.
Obviously, this gets Cordray no closer to actually being confirmed by the Senate. He’s still six votes away if all Democrats support him. The fact that Heller found no problem with joining his colleagues, despite his own tough re-election fight against Shelley Berkley, suggests that it’s more of an election issue when you’re up against the woman who invented the CFPB. So it’s not a policy breakthrough. Even if you got Lisa Murkowski, who also didn’t sign the letter, and the Maine twins, who did, you’d end up three votes shy.
Politically, it means that Brown is running scared, and can probably be flipped on virtually every issue from now until next November. Instead of a Democrat trying to be Republican lite, the intensity of feeling over Warren has led Brown, a Republican, to become a Democrat-lite. This will depress his base while not dampening any enthusiasm for Warren. It’s a sign of weakness.
It won’t stop Warren from calling him out, either. This week, Brown will be feted at a fundraiser that will feature bank lobbyists and Richard Shelby, the ringleader in trying to gut the CFPB. Warren statement references this:
“She’s made clear Richard Cordray’s leadership will help hold Wall Street and big banks accountable and protect families from unscrupulous lending,” the campaign said in a statement, also pointing out that Shelby would be joining banking lobbyists at a fund-raiser in Washington for Brown. “Elizabeth hopes that Brown uses the opportunity to push for real change in Washington by convincing Shelby and his other allies to stop blocking the nomination.”
Scott Brown is on the run.