BOSTON — U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is claiming that Democrats on Capitol Hill, including Senate leader Harry Reid, are alienating him by sending a message to their fellow lawmakers not to work with him on legislation.
The Massachusetts Republican said Wednesday that Reid and other Democratic leaders are trying to deny Brown credit for initiatives he's sponsored in an effort to isolate him politically.
Their goal, Brown said, is to help Massachusetts Democrats reclaim the seat held for nearly half a century by Sen. Edward Kennedy before he died of brain cancer in 2009 and Brown won it in a special election last year. Brown is facing a tough re-election campaign.
"Because I'm up for election, they don't want me to get any love," Brown said Wednesday in an interview with The Associated Press at a Boston diner. "They tell people, 'Don't do anything with Scott, he's up for re-election.' We hear it all the time. It's sad.
"They still think this is the Kennedy seat and a Democratic seat. It's the No. 1 seat in the country and they want it back," Brown added.
Brown pointed to a proposal he sponsored that he said was designed to protect housing benefits for National Guard members deployed overseas. Brown, a member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, said he learned of the problem while on a training session in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Brown said his proposed change received broad support from rank-and-file Democrats and Republicans, but was blocked after an anonymous hold was put on the measure. He said Democratic leaders tried to replace it with a similar measure sponsored by Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, the Senate's Democratic campaign chairwoman.
It was only after Sen. John McCain intervened on Brown's behalf that his name was put back on the proposal, which was easily approved, Brown said.
"McCain said it was the first time since he's been there ... that they went personally after someone on a personal hold, not on a hold against their amendments, but after the person," Brown said. "That's the stuff that I'm dealing with down there and that's the stuff that's wrong, that frustrates the hell out of me."
Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, dismissed Brown's portrayal of how he's been treated by Senate Democrats.
"Since arriving in Washington, Brown has done the bidding of Wall Street," Canter said. "Now Brown is trying to blame others for his failed record."
Brown said Democrats have made similar efforts to strip his name from a measure to repeal a 2006 law that would have required federal, state and local governments to withhold 3 percent of their payments to nearly all contractors.
Brown said Democrats took the bill, renamed it, put the names of vulnerable Democrats on it and then tried to push it through.
"They put a secret hold on all of my amendments and on me personally. Harry Reid did that," he said. "I had to beg to get on the bill, all right? My bill and I had to beg to get on it."
"When we finally got through the political BS, it passed 100-0," he added.
President Barack Obama signed the legislation in November as part of a larger jobs bill that also creates tax breaks for companies that hire jobless veterans.
Talking about the housing benefit, Brown used a more direct expletive to describe what he said was the overt political machinations intended to isolate him.
Brown's anger didn't extend to the Democratic members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation. He said he's worked with Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Barney Frank on a number of key issues important to Massachusetts.
Brown's frustration is due in part what is shaping up to be a long and expensive re-election fight next year.
His toughest competition is coming from Harvard professor and consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren, who is running for the Democratic nomination.
Recent polls have the two in a tight contest, with a UMass-Lowell-Boston Herald poll of 500 registered voters earlier this month showing 49 percent of those polled backed Warren and 42 percent backing Brown. The seven-point difference gave Warren a slight lead; the poll's margin of error was 5 percentage points.
A similar poll from October found 41 percent of voters supported Brown while 38 percent backed Warren.
The race is expected to be one of the costliest in the state's history.
Warren reported more than $3 million in campaign donations as of the end of September, with more than 70 percent of the donations coming from outside of Massachusetts. Brown had more than $10 million in his campaign account at the time.
Despite his continued popularity in the state, his incumbent status and his hefty campaign war chest, Brown continues to portray himself as the underdog in the race.
"I'm a Republican from Massachusetts. I have the scars on my back to prove it," Brown said. "It's a blood sport here."