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Mr. Brown goes to Washington, signs his autograph '41'

For now, Massachusetts' Scott Brown has rock-star status as the favorite of conservatives. But when he's a working senator, he may break with fellow Republicans on some issues.

By Staff writer / January 21, 2010

Sen.-elect Scott Brown, (R) of Massachusetts, left, walks with Sen. John McCain, (R) of Arizona, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday. McCain was an early supporter of Brown.

J. Scott Applewhite/AP

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Washington

Even before Senator-elect Scott Brown arrived on Capitol Hill for visits with colleagues Thursday, he was shaking things up.

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As the 41st Republican, his presence gave back to minority Republicans the filibuster option they lost in the last election. It forced Democrats to review strategy for completing the healthcare reform bill that Brown campaigned to defeat. It brightened prospects for GOP recruitment drives for Campaign 2010.

And "it’s certainly improved everyone’s mood," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) of Alaska, clearly referring mainly to Republicans.

His morning rounds included a first stop with Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona, an early backer.

"Senator McCain, as you now know, was one of the first people to actually, you know, look me in the eye in this very office and say, ‘Well, it’s a long shot, but I’m with you if you feel you can win it'," Brown told reporters.

Meets with Democrats too

Meetings with colleagues across the aisle were also cordial. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D) of Massachusetts, who met Brown this morning with the rest of the state delegation – all Democrats – says he was pleased by Brown’s kind words for his father, the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, and the Kennedy family.

"Politics aside, he’s now one of our colleagues, and we’ll work together," he said.

Brown tells reporters that he’s also open to working with Democrats.

"People want good government. They want transparency. They want us here to solve problems," he said. "We’ve got Al Qaeda trying to kill us. We’ve got very serious tax-and-spend problems. We’ve got some real fiscal issues and job questions. And we’re not solving them. We’re talking about things that are really irrelevant. I’m going to try to remind everybody that we can do better."

A fiscal conservative in the Massachusetts Senate, Brown campaigned to rein in taxes and spending and to defeat pending healthcare reform. But he breaks with many Republicans on social issues, including support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.

Independent record?

"He has an independent record in Massachusetts," says campaign adviser Eric Fehrnstom. "He knows how to work with the other side."

Brown says that he wants to serve on Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and the Appropriations Committee. He campaigned on ending business as usual in Washington. Asked how he plans to do it, he said:

"I've already changed business as usual, just by being the 41st senator," he says, on his out the door to catch his daughter Ayla’s basketball game. "Now every [Republican] senator is the 41st senator. It’s bringing greater transparency and accountability in government, just because
I’m here."

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell says he took notice when he heard that Brown was signing autographs "41".

"This is a man who understands how the Senate operates," McConnell said.

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