Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown raised eyebrows by saying he's 'not going to rule out anything' when asked if he'd run for Senate in New Hampshire. He has a house there.
Will Wrobel/The Telegraph/AP
That’s a thought that’s suddenly the buzz of New England politics after Mr. Brown gave a speech in New Hampshire and, when asked if he might run for office there, said he’s “not going to rule out anything.”
One thing in New Hampshire’s favor, if he runs there: That state is decidedly more friendly political terrain for Republicans than Massachusetts. It’s known as a presidential “swing state,” whereas Massachusetts is reliably Democratic in its presidential voting.
In fact, Brown's status as a star of regional politics rests largely on the wonder that he won a US Senate seat from the Bay State in the first place. After Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy died in 2009, the Boston-suburbs politician (state senator) with regular-guy appeal staged a surprise special-election win.
He lost that seat last November in another close and high-profile race, against Elizabeth Warren (D).
“I don’t think I’m done with politics,” Brown told reporters, according to news reports, after delivering a speech marking the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death.
He noted that he owns a home in New Hampshire, has “been a taxpayer” there for two decades, and has relatives in the state, according to a Boston Globe report. But he also said that for now he’s just “recharging the batteries,” and that he’s not sure of any next steps.
Massachusetts Republicans had hoped Brown would shift his attention to the Bay State’s other Senate seat, recently vacated as John Kerry became US secretary of State. But Brown bowed out of that contest, set to be decided by a special election in June.
He cited exhaustion, after a hard-fought campaign against Ms. Warren, as one reason he declined to launch back into full-tilt electioneering.
In New Hampshire, there’s more time before the next Senate race – but only a bit more. Incumbent Jeanne Shaheen (D) is up for reelection in 2014. The state’s other Senate seat is held by Republican Kelly Ayotte, and the Granite State governor is Maggie Hassan (D), who was elected in 2012 to a two-year term.
An obvious challenge for a Brown candidacy against Shaheen would be running against an incumbent and former governor of the state. (The Massachusetts race, by contrast, is for an open seat.)
What New Hampshire would offer is an electorate receptive to Brown’s moderate-conservative views – including the notion that tax hikes aren't a path to prosperity.
Granite State voters are split about evenly among Republicans, Democrats, and independents.
Shaheen won in 2008 with 53 percent of the vote, while Republican Ayotte won in 2010 with more than 60 percent of the vote.
That comparison doesn’t mean the state is shifting Republican. The state has voted for the Democrat in five of the past six presidential campaigns, and its overall roster of elected officials is now mostly Democratic – the opposite of a decade ago.
What it does mean, though, is that this is a true swing state, where a Republican campaign doesn’t start in a deep hole.