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Patrick: Brown can be beaten in Mass. Senate race

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Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is “eminently beatable” in next year’s Senate race in Massachusetts, Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick said Thursday.

The incumbent is a “nice guy,” but has not always represented the state’s best interests in the Senate, Patrick said in a response to a question during his monthly appearance on WTKK-FM’s “Ask the Governor” program.

Patrick added that he had no plans to endorse any of the Democrats who have so far announced for the race, and speculated that the Democratic field could grow before the 2012 primary. He has firmly ruled out running for the seat himself.

“I think Scott Brown is eminently beatable,” the governor said. “I think there are going to be perfectly fair issues around the way in which his service in the Senate has not served the interests of the people of the Commonwealth.”

Pressed by hosts of the show to identify a vote that went against the state’s interests, Patrick noted that Brown was among Republicans who insisted that tax breaks for wealthier Americans be retained in a compromise that extended jobless benefits for the unemployed. President Barack Obama eventually went along with the compromise.

Brown has crossed party lines and voted with Democrats on several issues, most recently against a House GOP budget that included a provision to transform Medicare into a voucher system. Patrick said Brown has often wavered before settling on a position.

Newton Mayor Setti Warren, City Year co-founder Alan Khazei and Robert Massie, a onetime candidate for lieutenant governor, have publicly announced their candidacies for the seat held by Brown. Marisa DeFranco, a Salem attorney, has also filed papers to enter the race.

Patrick said that while the Democratic candidates to date are relatively unknown among voters, he too was a virtual unknown when he first launched his candidacy for governor.