The news that Scott Brown would be foregoing another run for an abbreviated term in the U.S. Senate should not have come as a surprise.
As Brown himself suggested, the idea of running a third U.S. Senate campaign in four years after winning in 2010 over Martha Coakley then bowing to challenger Elizabeth Warren last November would exact an enormous toll. And let’s not forget he could have faced four campaigns in five years, if he were to win this June’s race and then sought re-election when the seat comes up again in 2014. That just isn’t realistic, financially, physically, emotionally or otherwise.
Yet the absence of Brown — who, during his 2010-2012 time in the Senate emerged as stalwart advocate for the fishing industry, and who made several visits to Gloucester to hear fishermen’s concerns and bring them to D.C. — leaves the industry in a vacuum at a time when it needs the most help.
Brown’s announcement came in the same week that Gov. Deval Patrick chose former Chief of Staff William “Mo” Cowan to fill new Secretary of State Jon Kerry’s senate seat in an interim role — opting for Cowan over retired Congressman Barney Frank, another staunch fisheries advocate. And with NOAA announcing shameful, industry-killing cod quotas for the new season that begins May 1, fishermen are now missing Brown, Kerry and Frank from what had become a strong coalition of federal lawmakers. With all due respect to newcomer Warren and especially to Congressman John Tierney, who has kept up the fight, they need help in pressing for the now-desperately needed aid to address what even the Department of Commerce admits is an “economic disaster” — and stunningly, one that NOAA, an agency of our own government, is now about to make much worse, not better through limit cuts of up to 77 percent.
To that end, it’s up to the industry and to municipal and state leaders in Gloucester, New Bedford, Cape Cod, Newburyport and elsewhere to insist that candidates for the Kerry seat stake out their positions regarding NOAA’s actions and recognize that the future of Gloucester’s and other Massachusetts fishing fleets are indeed job issues essential to our community economies.
That means that, when it comes to defining campaign issues, the state’s fishermen need a seat at the proverbial table.