Brown himself epitomizes some of these compromises. In a conversation with him last November – before his meteoric rise to frontrunner status – Brown stuck to bread and butter economic issues and all-around pragmatic conservatism.

“As a party, we need to have a larger tent. And we need to have some diversity of ideas,” he told me. In response to a question I asked about the debate then raging over whether the GOP should adopt an ideological purity test, Brown was dismissive. “I’m a fiscal conservative. I’ve never voted for a tax increase. Another Republican may not feel that way. I think it’s shortsighted to have a purity test.”

The current state party chair in Massachusetts, Jennifer Nassour, emphasized roughly the same points. She made waves in national Republican circles when she told a LGBT newspaper that, “there shouldn’t be a monolithic party position” on social issues – rather individual candidates should be free to embrace a pro-choice or a pro-gay marriage position if their conscience dictates.