Scott Brown flirts with New Hampshire, but the feeling might not be mutual

October 2, 2013

Scott Brown has spent a lot of time in New Hampshire this year. With each trip, the big question his presence raises is a simple one: Will he challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in 2014?

Brown won't say yes. But he won't say no, either. The uncertainty could be doing Granite State Republicans more harm than good.


Former senator Scott Brown. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Earlier this week, the former Massachusetts GOP senator was in New Hampshire -- where he owns a vacation home -- once again to raise money for the state GOP. His trip kicked up more dust than usual.

Shaheen sent a fundraising e-mail keyed to Brown's visit. She said Brown's trip was "his latest hint at running against me." Brown didn't like that, calling it "shameful for her to do that, for one, because I’m not a declared candidate."

Brown's right that he's not a declared candidate -- he told the New Hampshire Union-Leader it's "not my priority" to run. But so long as he doesn't shut the door completely, it's problematic in the eyes of some. Brown's latest Granite State stop earned him a stern word of warning from the Union-Leader's editorial board, which wrote:

Every time Brown comes to — or even talks about coming to — New Hampshire, Shaheen's fund-raising machine spins into overdrive. The Shaheen campaign has done one fundraising email a day for the last four days off of Monday's visit alone. Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is using Brown's trips to tap into her donor network to help Shaheen raise money...

Brown needs to either move here and announce a run or state definitively that he will not be a candidate.

Sure, Brown's presence at fundraisers and the possibility that he will run makes him a financial plus for the state party. But it's also true that his flirtation has fueled the opposition. And it could cloud the picture for other prospective Republican candidates.

If he does run, Brown would face some obstacles. Earlier this year, when he raised the possibility for the first time, Democratic and Republican strategists in the Granite State told The Fix it wouldn't be a good idea. (For starters, he'd face carpetbagging charges.)

At this point, it seems likelier than not that Brown won't run. When he passed on running for governor of Massachusetts earlier this year, it looked like he wouldn't run for any office next year. Why? Because a gubernatorial campaign would have been his least difficult path back to office. And he declined to take that path.

Brown's been traveling to other states, too. And he says he wants to be a part of the larger political conversation and the debate in the Republican Party. He's in Connecticut on Wednesday, where he took to Twitter to make light of talk that selling his Massachusetts home could be a sign he is moving toward a New Hampshire Senate run.

 

Brown's been something of an enigma since being voted out of office last year. It's not clear what he wants to do next. But what is clear is that if he does not make a choice about New Hampshire soon, he could well have fewer friends in the state that's been like a second home to him.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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