The morning after Massachusetts state senator Scott Brown pulled off an election upset for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by Ted Kennedy, which shocked the political world, TIME political correspondent Karen Tumulty caught up with him to talk about why it happened and what it might mean:
TIME: You told a story at your victory celebration about the first moment you realized that you had a real shot at winning this race. It was when you saw a homemade sign with your name. Can you tell me where you were and when that was?
Brown: I drive around a lot. It was in central Mass., I think up near the Lunenburg area.
So at what point in the campaign was this?
It was probably about, I'd say, a week, a week and a half after the [Dec. 8] primary. They were popping up all over the place because there was a point when we actually ran out of signs. We ran out of signs, I think, three times, and we just told people, Listen, we ran out. If you want to do something, you can maybe download something or make your own. And all of a sudden, we saw these amazing signs. When we had our first snowstorm, people actually went out and made signs out of the snow. It was incredible. On snow banks they actually would do almost snow art, and on the highways and people's trucks, and gradually we saw more and more and more handwritten signs, T-shirts, hats.
One thing I was really struck by, listening to you the past few days, is the degree to which the themes that you're talking about are so much like the themes that President Obama was talking about 15 months ago: I'm going to change the way they do things in Washington. Why do you think he hasn't been able to achieve that? And why do you think you can change Washington, as opposed to Washington changing you?
First of all, I have a wife and kids, and they keep me very grounded, and I've always had that balance. Just like with [his daughter] Ayla when she was on American Idol. Gail [Huff, his wife, a local television reporter in Washington] and I would always notice when she was getting a little too full of herself. My family regularly says, "You know, Dad, do you want us to enlarge the door and open up the double doors so you can come in?" So I have a good check and balance system. We all do as family members, kind of keep an eye on each other.
That being said, I'm a man, and I can only do so much. But I know as the 41st Senator now [that] every Republican is the 41st Senator now [in their ability to deprive the Democrats of the 60 votes they need to shut down a filibuster].
To think that a majority party would use the ability to have the super-majority to kind of push things through is leaving a bad taste in people's mouths, especially as you noted the fact that President Obama made [changing the way business gets done in Washington] one of his campaign themes. You knew he was going to be transparent, he would post all these bills on the Internet, and you'd have three days to comment on them. None of that's happened. So people are disappointed in that regard.