by Kevin Allman
Sen. Scott Brown, meet Rep. Anh Joseph Cao. You two have a lot in common.
Brown became a hero of conservative Republicans last month when he was elected to the Massachusetts Senate seat held for decades by the late Democratic stalwart Ted Kennedy but he saw how quickly the political winds can turn this week when, in his first vote since being sworn in Feb. 4, he broke ranks with the GOP and voted for Sen. Harry Reids jobs bill. Brown, who had raised more than $14 million in the 19 days before the election, found himself under attack by the very conservative media which had buoyed him (Glenn Beck, once a supporter, took to the airwaves to denounce Brown as a "liar") and besieged by angry donors nationwide asking for their money back.
It all might sound familiar to Cao, the Louisiana Republican who was hailed as a hero when he took the traditionally Democratic 2nd District seat in January 2009. At the time, House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner issued a statement titled The Future is Cao -- but the honeymoon was definitely over in November, when Cao was the only Republican to vote for a version of President Barack Obamas health care bill, and suffered the financial consequences from his own party. According to an Associated Press report this week, Caos campaign contributions dropped 40 percent in the three months since that vote. The AP also reported Cao had raised $874,602 since beginning his reelection campaign last year -- but had spent $640,000 of it on more fundraising. (Cao will need all the money he can get, as Democratic state Rep. Cedric Richmond has already announced he's running for the seat later this year.)
It may be too early to tell whether Brown will feel the slap of checkbooks closing, but his supporters went into paroxysms of fury on his Facebook page, many of them swearing never to give the junior senator another cent. Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came from the blog The Rude News, which headlined its condemnation Heckuva Job, Brownie. Ouch.