If Hillary Clinton could shirk the carpetbagger label in New York and Terry McAuliffe could do the same in Virginia, why can’t former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown do so in New Hampshire? If he, as some GOP insiders are betting, throws his hat into the ring, it would not only raise the rare possibility of a senator serving two different states (James Shields served from three), but put yet another Democrat in real jeopardy.
Brown has fueled speculation about a New Hampshire run, most recently by dropping “MA” from his Twitter handle. He owns a home in New Hampshire so he’d be eligible to run. Brown also has picked up some in-state grassroots support. Jeremy Baker, a college student from University of New Hampshire has started a “Draft Scott Brown” movement via Tumblr. His Tumblr page explains, “I am a long time New Hampshire resident and student at the University of New Hampshire. I made this blog because I want to have a voice in the future of my country. During the government shutdown, Jeanne Shaheen refused to break ranks with Barack Obama and Harry Reid on Obamacare. The partisan politics in the federal government is one of the biggest threats to the future of this nation.”
Ironically, Brown was first elected from Massachusetts to try to block Obamacare by denying Democrats a filibuster-proof majority; he won but the president resorted to reconciliation to jam the law through. There would be a certain symmetry if he defeated one of the Democrats who voted for Obamacare.
Baker seems to be for real. He tells me that he is “a 22 year-old senior at the University of New Hampshire. I’m currently studying Biomedical Science (switched from Political Science sophomore year). I joined the UNH College Republicans during the summer of 2012 and volunteered for a few campaigns during the election.” In response to my inquiry he responded via email about the reception to his site, “The reaction so far has been positive. I’ve been very encouraged by people’s interest.” He says he has no connection to the state GOP and has yet to hear from Brown, “but I hope to soon.”
A GOP insider familiar with New Hampshire tells me that Brown “would be an instant contender, even the liberal polling firm PPP says he would enter the race in a statistical dead heat. Brown would bring instant energy and enthusiasm to the race, as well as national attention.” The insider brushes off a carpet bagger problem, arguing that “25% of people who vote in New Hampshire were born in Mass, and close to 40% have lived there at one point in their lives.” (Ironically, Shaheen is assigned to Daniel Webster’s desk in the Senate. As you know, Webster was a congressman from New Hampshire who later became a senator from Massachusetts.) In fact, New Hampshire has made a habit of picking U.S. senators who weren’t born there: Three of the last eight and five of the last 14 U.S. senators from New Hampshire were born in Massachusetts.
Brown has shown he can win a statewide race in New England. He has a fiscally conservative and socially libertarian profile that would work well in New Hampshire. He is a polished campaigner with plenty of media exposure. If he decides to run, his success will, like most races against incumbents in 2014, turn on his ability to tie her to the unpopular president and make her an equal partner in the Obamacare fiasco. These days, that doesn’t seem like such a tall order.