Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said he doesn't consider himself a member of the Tea Party movement and would welcome any primary challenger.
Brown, the Republican senator from deep-blue Massachusetts whose win in a special election last year in part catalyzed the Tea Party movement, said he considers himself just a Republican, though one with sympathies toward some Tea Party issues.
He said Monday evening that he didn't identify as a member of the Tea Party movement.
"No, I'm a Republican from Massachusetts. I'm not a Tea Party member," Brown said during an appearance on Fox News.
The Massachusetts senator is promoting his new book, which includes revelations of sexual and physical abuse as a child, on the road toward what's expected to be a tough reelection challenge in 2012.
In addition to being targeted by Democrats, Brown's faced frustration from some of the conservative activists who helped propel him to victory due to some of his more centrist votes in the Senate.
"I have a lot of respect for the Tea Party and what they stand for … I'm not a social crusader; I'm going to keep an open mind on each and every issue," Brown told MSNBC. "You're talking about being an ideologue? If you're looking for one, I'm not it."
His stance reflects the difficult choices facing some high-profile Republicans regarding their relationship with the Tea Party. Some GOP lawmakers have cozied up to the movement, having joined the official caucuses in the House and Senate. Others have been more tentative in explicitly identifying as a member of the movement.
Brown has carefully managed his votes in the Senate so as not to alienate a number of independent or Democratic-leaning voters in Massachusetts. But if he hopes to win reelection in 2012, he might need all the energy from GOP and Tea Party voters in the state.