Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown wants back in the Senate and he doesn’t mind carpetbagging to get there. The question is, how will New Hampshire feel about it?
Brown lost his U.S. Senate seat to Elizabeth Warren after he completed three years of Sen. Edward Kennedy’s term. He accomplished that by winning a special election after Kennedy’s death. Now he has cast about for a likely road back and settled on the state where he has a summer home -- neighboring New Hampshire. After selling his house in Massachusetts, that place in Rye, NH has become the ex-senator’s new permanent residence.
His interest in the seat of New Hampshire's Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is well known. Brown formed an exploratory committee in March, followed by a circuit around the state to glad-hand voters. Shaheen, however, has a substantial history of public service in New Hampshire, having served as a state senator, plus three two-year terms as governor (1997 – 2003). She assumed her current office as U.S. Senator in January, 2009.
On Wednesday, Brown went on the radio show New Hampshire Today to announce that he will announce (?) his candidacy next week. WMUR News 9 also confirmed the plan with Brown.
The man has some work to do. A poll by the American Research Group, released on March 14th – after his exploratory committee was created -- showed that he had the support of 38% of respondents compared to 50% that supported Shaheen.
But Sen. Shaheen may not even enter the equation. New Hampshire has more registered independents than it has either Democrats or Republicans, and they're allowed to vote in the primary. Brown's first hurdle is to convince enough independents to vote for him so that he emerges as the Republican nominee. Undaunted by the challenge, Brown resigned his position with a Boston law firm, Nixon Peabody, this week in order to pursue his quest.
Two recent developments may significantly affect the degree of the candidate's future success, or failure. First, he has based his campaign so far on criticisms of Obamacare, apparently banking on the fact that the law has been unpopular in New Hampshire. However, enrollments in the state have not only exceeded expectations, but 3 out of 4 residents received the boon of qualifying for at least some financial assistance.
Second, Wednesday's shocking Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon vs. the FEC guarantees that a massive amount of money will pour into campaign coffers, especially of the Republican variety. In a state like New Hampshire, that can be a two-edged sword. Money gives an obvious edge in advertising, but the residents of the Granite State are staunchly independent and tend to resent outside interference.
When Brown made his run for reelection in Massachusetts, against Elizabeth Warren, he signed a 'People's Pledge', essentially rejecting money from outside groups. Of course, he can’t feel too good about the outcome of that race. But in March, Senator Shaheen's campaign manager, Mike Vlacich, called on him to make the same pledge in the New Hampshire election. So far, Brown has declined.
On Wednesday, New Hampshire Today posted this on the show's Facebook page:
"Former US Senator Scott Brown just confirmed and announced on NH Today that he is running for the US Senate in NH and will be announcing next week. News made today on the show."
A fan, MJ McGee, almost immediately responded with a comment: "And after he loses -- there's always Maine."
Those Graniters are a tough crowd, Mr. Brown. Better keep that carpetbag packed.