Republican Scott Brown will not run for governor of Massachusetts next year, passing up what looked like his best -- but not only -- chance of returning to elected office.
Now, it's looking increasingly unlikely that another campaign is in Brown's immediate future, based both on what he's been saying, and the options he has left.
Let's first look at Brown's own words. In an interview with WBZ's Dan Rea Wednesday night, Brown explained his decision not to run for governor, sounding like a someone more interested in traveling the country and speaking than focusing on a campaign of any sort.
"It doesn't mean, however, that I am not going to be participating in the political process," Brown said of his decision. "I have a very, I think, powerful message that needs to be told, that people are asking me to go around the country and the world to give them about the dysfunctionalilty of the Senate, and about Congress, and about the lack of balance here in Massachusetts."
What's more, if Brown wants to mount a 2014 campaign, his two best remaining options are to run for the Senate in Massachusetts or New Hampshire. Both look more difficult than running for governor, a job for which Massachusetts voters have demonstrated a willingness to elect Republicans.
The former would mean challenging Sen. Ed Markey (D) after Markey has had time to build a record as a senator. The latter would mean facing carpetbagging charges (Brown has a secondary house and roots in the Granite State, but is not a resident there) in a race against an incumbent who is in pretty good political standing.
"My personal guess is that it would be less likely," said former Republican congressman Peter Torkildsen of the possibility of a New Hampshire bid. "[Brown's] already been a U.S. senator, and if he wants to have a role in a national debate, there are other avenues to do so."
Veteran Democratic strategist Mary Anne Marsh said she doesn't expect Brown to run for any office. "Scott Brown won't run for MA governor, MA Senate or NH Senate because he wouldn't win and all of them would require him to do something now if he thought he could," Marsh wrote in an e-mail.
A third option is to move toward run for president in 2016, which Brown hasn't ruled out. But as The Fix boss wrote earlier this week, there are several reasons why that's simply not a good idea for him.
All of which raises the question: What might Brown do to stay relevant instead? The answer seems to be more of what he's already doing. As a Fox News contributor, Brown has a big platform to keep himself visible nationally. Aside from that, he clearly intends to keep traveling the country (he was in Iowa over the weekend) to talk about his vision of a bigger-tent Republican Party.
"There's got to be room for people like me, and Chis Christie, Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Sarah Palin, you know, you name it, from the most conservative to the most liberal Republican," Brown told Rea.
It wouldn't be the worst thing -- financially or politically -- for Brown. And it could position him well for a reentrance into campaigning for office down the road.
"Brown can make like he is running for national office, do it for nearly two years without doing anything tangible about it and still get lots of attention, raise his profile and probably his ability to make money in the process," said Marsh. "So this is more about posturing than politics."
Brown has been difficult to read since leaving office, so his future remains opaque. But based on what we've seen lately, don't count on seeing any Brown campaign buttons any time soon.
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