Republican Bill Hudak had already set up his 6th District congressional campaign headquarters in Danvers when Scott Brown entered the race for U.S. Senate last September.
Allies as attorneys, Hudak gave Brown full use of his cadre of volunteers, his phone system, signs for the improbable run to a Senate seat that fell to him Tuesday night, and "at least 100,000 minutes of phone calls for him," Hudak said with satisfaction and a bit of pride in a phone interview yesterday.
Brown took advantage of the loaner regional headquarters and Hudak's patronage to run even better in the 6th District — beating state Attorney General Martha Coakley by 16 points — than he did statewide en route to a 52-47 percent win in an historic upset.
The vote sends a Republican to the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts for the first time in 33 years.
Yesterday, Sen.-elect Brown returned the favor by endorsing Hudak's underdog campaign to oust Democrat John Tierney from the congressional seat he has held for 13 years.
"Bill was with us from the beginning," said Brown's endorsement statement. "Bill is not beholden to special interests and will help me bring the voice of the people to Washington."
For now, neither Tierney nor Hudak have primary opponents.
Gloucester state Sen. Bruce Tarr, who advises his state Senate Republican colleague Brown, said Tuesday's breakthrough gives Republicans everywhere a sense of real possibility that despite their registration deficit, the mass of unenrolled or independent voters are willing to consider and vote for a Republican.
"This (the Brown-Coakley) is a race that will be studied for its strategy immediately," Tarr said, "and for all history.
"The largest message of a lot of messages was, if you work hard and listen to the public, nothing is unachievable," said Tarr. "There's still a place for everyone in this democracy."
Brown drew his support from Republicans and thousands of frustrated unenrolled voters, and Republican state Rep. Brad Hill of Ipswich, whose district includes Manchester, noted that "they sent a very clear message yesterday.
"They don't like what's going on in D.C.," Hill said, and their unrest isn't likely to dissipate by November, Hill predicted.
"These people aren't just going away," Hill added.
In casting his race ahead, Hudak, 51, favors the populist, post-partisan paradigm that worked so well for his pal Brown under the special election spotlight.
"We're very like-minded," said Hudak, who lives with his family in Boxford and practices law from Saugus.
"Not that I felt alone," he said, "I was alone. When Scott entered the race, I was thrilled."
It gave Hudak a "populist feeling," he said.
Hudak says he views Tierney as a "rubber stamp" for the Democratic congressional machine, a party to the machine's effort to "impose" a national health insurance care system on the people whether they want it or not. And Hudak said he intends to remind voters that Tierney voted to raise taxes 97 times and voted with the Democratic machine 99 percent of the time.
"He's out of touch with his constituents," said Hudak.
Tarr said he knew little about Hudak except that "he's working incredibly hard, I see him everywhere."
Among his public appearances, Hudak participated in and spoke at the October fishermen's protest at Gloucester's East Coast offices of the National Marine Fisheries Service and law enforcement office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hudak and Brown also share a commitment to the fishing industry.
Tarr said that, "knowing Scott," he would not be surprised if Brown — U.S. Sen. Brown, by then — appears on the steps of the Capitol with a much larger contingent from the industry flung from places as far as Maine and the Gulf of Mexico during a Feb. 24 national demonstration. The protest is aimed at promoting flexibility in the Magnsuon-Stevenson Act fishing regulatory act.
"He's committed to being an ally for us in the struggle that lies ahead," said Tarr.
Staff writer Matthew K. Roy contributed to this story by Richard Gaines, who may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.