On Tuesday, the New Hampshire Republican Party announced that former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown will headline its annual holiday party. In an op-ed that was published on FoxNews.com earlier in the day, Brown repeatedly mentioned New Hampshire as he ripped the Affordable Care Act. Although he did not mention Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) by name, the majority of the piece is devoted to criticizing the “Democratic senators who forced this fiasco on the American people.”
The day’s news represented the latest in a long series of signals that Brown is seriously considering a run in New Hampshire against Senator Shaheen. Over the past several months — perhaps in an effort to distance himself from his native Bay State — Brown has sold his family home in Wrentham, Massachusetts, and changed his Twitter handle from “ScottBrownMA” to simply “ScottBrown.” Additionally, when reporters asked him in April if he was considering a run against Shaheen, he pointedly declined to shut down the speculation.
“I don’t think I’m done with politics, but I’m not going to rule out anything right now because I really haven’t thought a heck of a lot about it,” he said at the time.
At this point, all signs point towards a Senate run — but New Hampshire Democrats shouldn’t exactly be quaking in their boots.
Brown’s supporters imagine that he could pull off a repeat of his stunning 2010 victory, when he rode a wave of Independent and moderate Democratic support to shock then-state attorney general Martha Coakley in a low-turnout special election to fill the seat vacated by the late Ted Kennedy.
Unfortunately for Brown, it’s not 2010 anymore.
Upon joining the Senate, Brown quickly proved that he was not the independent-minded moderate that he purported to be. At the time that Elizabeth Warren began her challenge to Brown’s re-election, he had voted with a majority of his Republican colleagues 95 percent of the time. Massachusetts voters noticed; in the 2012 election, exit polls found that Warren won 89 percent of Democrats on the way to an easy 8 percent victory. That margin wasn’t nearly good enough for Brown to win in Massachusetts, and, although a it is more conservative state, it won’t be good enough in New Hampshire.
And Brown didn’t just lose in 2012; he lost ugly. The embarrassing conclusion to his campaign, which included racist chants and a cringeworthy incident in which homeless men were paid to pretend to support Brown, probably did not go unnoticed by New Hampshire’s politically savvy citizens — and certainly won’t be forgotten by the press if Brown runs in 2014.
In 2010, Coakley was widely considered to be a weak candidate who was unable to match Brown’s relentless retail campaigning throughout the state. Shaheen, who has won three gubernatorial elections and a Senate race in the Granite State, has no such problems. The battle-tested senior senator is relatively popular, with a 49 to 42 percent approval rating according to a September poll from Public Policy Polling.