Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), the freshman legislator who won a special election in the blue state of Massachusetts thanks in part to widespread support from the Tea Party, said Tuesday that he doesn't consider himself a member of their ranks.
"I'm a Republican from Massachusetts," Brown told USA Today when asked if he identified with the Tea Party.
As a candidate for the late Ted Kennedy's Senate seat in 2010, Brown had a notoriously complex relationship with the conservative groups. While he understood the grassroots power of the Tea Party, as evidenced by his willingness to hold fundraisers touting his support of the movement, he also seemed hesitant to get too cozy with them, perhaps considering the liberal nature of Massachusetts.
On Tuesday, Brown made himself quite clear on the political distinction.
"I'm a Republican, period," Brown said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "I have respect for the Tea Party. I'm a fiscal conservative - I always have been. When you talk about national security, I'm a hawk, probably more than anybody that I know in Massachusetts."
Brown later continued, saying that he had no plans to be a "social crusader" or an "ideologue," and that he was prepared to test his record against that of a potential challenger from the right.
"If you're talking about a primary for me, hey, nothing wrong with a primary," he said. "I welcome all challengers."
At least one former backer has already promised to fund a more conservative competitor.