Consider this the least-surprising but perhaps most-overdue development in the Senate race in New Hampshire. According to the Associated Press, former Senator Scott Brown has begun assembling a team to challenge Democrat Jeanne Shaheen for her own seat in the US Senate, hoping to unseat her in preparation for higher ambitions down the road:
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown has begun seeking campaign staff while aggressively courting New Hampshire’s political elite, marking what local Republicans consider serious steps toward launching a Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
The stakes are high for the GOP’s national push for the Senate majority this fall as well as for Brown’s own political ambitions.
The longtime Massachusetts resident, having recently relocated to his seacoast New Hampshire vacation home, is expected to launch an exploratory committee to enter the race as soon as Friday, according to several New Hampshire Republican officials who spoke directly to Brown about his plans.
The move officially allows him to begin raising money and hiring staff. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly disclose his plans before an official announcement.
If that seems like a late entry into the race, you’re not mistaken. Two weeks ago, the New Hampshire Union-Leader editors criticized Brown for keeping the party on ice, and demanded that he fish or cut bait quickly. “Rarely has so much speculation gone on so long with so little concrete action to sustain it,” the editors noted, adding that “[e]ven world-class publicity magnets like the Kardashians or Justin Bieber would be impressed by Brown’s ability to monopolize media attention on what is, so far, a non-candidacy.” The filing deadline is in June, but US Senate races are expensive and require plenty of organization, even in a relatively small state like New Hampshire. Thanks to Brown’s presence but lack of commitment, the GOP doesn’t have anyone in good position to challenge Shaheen because of the “stasis” of which the Union-Leader editors complained.
By this time, New Hampshire Republicans might ask themselves if Brown is worth the trouble. Not long ago, having a former Massachusetts Senator and most-recent GOP loser parachute into New Hampshire to run against a Democratic incumbent looked like the only real option to defeat Shaheen. With ObamaCare melting down and Barack Obama’s approval ratings plummeting, that may no longer be the case. While Brown can certainly raise money and attract national attention, having a carpetbagger with his eye on a future presidential run as their challenger offers Shaheen some easy shots and a chance to shift the focus away from her and from ObamaCare.
Still, the rumblings of the campaign start-up was enough for Politico’s Mike Allen to argue that the GOP had decisively won the week. We’ll see, but it would help if a sense of urgency in challenging Shaheen by someone in the GOP appeared.
Update: Reid Wilson finds another indicator that Brown is aiming at Shaheen:
More hints at a Scott Brown NH SEN bid: He just canceled a planned April 3 appearance in Iowa — http://t.co/OWqPSL62Gd
— Reid Wilson (@PoliticsReid) March 14, 2014
Skipping Iowa takes the running-for-President argument off of Shaheen’s plate, at least for the most part.