Guy covered this in the Green Room, but it’s worth a longer look on the front page, too. Four months ago, former US Senator Scott Brown announced that he would not seek the Republican nomination for governor in Massachusetts. Brown lost his election to stay in the Senate to Elizabeth Warren, but clearly wanted to stay in politics. And now, it’s clear that this doesn’t mean staying in Massachusetts:
Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown plans to move to New Hampshire, the latest sign that he’s considering a U.S. Senate bid there, which would complicate Democrats’ effort to hold their majority in the chamber.
Brown, 54, has found a buyer for his Wrentham home and is set to close on that deal this week, Andrew I. Glincher, managing partner and chief executive officer at Brown’s employer Nixon Peabody LLP, said in an interview. Brown will continue to work out of the law firm’s Boston office because he isn’t licensed to practice law in New Hampshire, Glincher said.
Brown didn’t respond to an e-mail inquiry.
The move will fuel speculation that Brown intends to challenge New Hampshire’s Democratic U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who is seeking re-election next year. Brown lost his Massachusetts Senate seat to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in 2012.
ABC reports that a super-PAC has already begun buying air time in New Hampshire to support a bid to oppose Shaheen:
A conservative super PAC Ending Spending Inc. has already begun paying for web ads to boost Brown in New Hampshire. And according to ABC News affiliate WMUR, the group has also reserved air time for a spot attacking Sheehan this week.
The ads are timed to coincide with Brown’s scheduled speaking engagement at the New Hampshire Republican holiday party Thursday night.
In recent weeks, Brown has been a frequent visitor to the state.
At a stop in Londonderry, N.H., recently, he hinted at a potential presidential ambitions, telling reporters that nothing is “off the table at this point.”
Brown wouldn’t exactly be a carpetbagger in New Hampshire. He already owns a home in Rye, and while it hasn’t been his primary residence, he spends quite a bit of time there. The legal license issue is probably a technicality at best, or an annoyance of a few months at worst. He will want to fully establish himself in New Hampshire before starting a campaign to represent the state, but this isn’t anything like Alan Keyes flying to Illinois as a last-minute replacement against then-state legislator Barack Obama for a Senate seat in 2004 — although Democrats will certainly make the case that it is.
The question will be whether New Hampshire Republicans will embrace Brown. He had to occupy the center pretty firmly in his attempt to remain viable in Massachusetts, but Granite State Republicans are more libertarian in their drift. John Fund notes that recent polling in New Hampshire shows Brown to be competitive in a general election, but facing some potential headwinds in the primary:
Back in September, the Democratic survey firm Public Policy Polling interviewed several hundred New Hampshire residents and found that Brown would be a formidable contender to New Hampshire’s Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen. The poll found him trailing her by only 48 percent to 44 percent, within the survey’s margin of error. Shaheen, a former governor, only won her first term in the Senate with 52 percent of the vote herself in 2008.
“Brown has a strong chance because the two states are culturally linked through shared sports team enthusiasms and the Boston media market,” says political consultant Andrew Boucher, who grew up in New Hampshire. “About two-thirds of the state already knows Scott Brown very well because they watch Boston TV.”
Of course, since he was one of the more moderate Republicans when he served in the Senate, Brown would first have to get past a GOP primary. Three conservatives — former U.S. senator Bob Smith, former state senator Jim Rubens, and former think-tank director Karen Testerman — are already running in the primary. Smith served two terms in the U.S. Senate, but has been out of office for over a decade. After being ousted from the Senate in a GOP primary, he immediately moved to Florida, where he launched two spectacularly unsuccessful bids for U.S. Senate there. At age 72, he is considered past his sell-by date. Rubens and Testerman haven’t yet shown the ability to raise the big bucks that it would take to challenge a well-funded Brown candidacy. Should more than one conservative run against Brown, it increases the chances of him winning a GOP primary, even if he polls less than a majority of the vote.
The primary will certainly prove interesting. Shaheen will have a tough time regardless of who her opponent turns out to be, thanks to the cratering support for Barack Obama. Brown can at least demonstrate his opposition to ObamaCare and his brief experience as a Senator as pluses for New Hampshire voters, and that may be all they require by the time the rest of the ObamaCare disaster has unfolded over the next year.