Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown went to Iowa over the weekend. You know what that means. (If you don't, see Fix immutable rule of politics #4.)
"I want to get an indication of whether there’s even an interest, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, if there’s room for a bipartisan problem solver," Brown told the Boston Herald. “It’s 2013, I think it’s premature, but I am curious."
Curiosity is all well and good. But, Scott Brown shouldn't run for president in 2016. Here are four reasons why.
1. Brown is a Republican from Massachusetts. Massachusetts is the most Democratic state in the country. (Sorry Maryland!) Any Republican who hails from Massachusetts will have to deal with a bit of "wolf in sheep's clothing" dynamic in the eyes of Republican voters nationally. Mitt Romney tried to use his work with the heavily Democratic Massachusetts state legislature as a symbol that he knew how to get things done, but many primary voters seemed to regard him as insufficiently conservative solely because of where he had come up in politics. Brown would have the exact same problem. Plus, does a party heavily rooted in the South and Plains really want to nominate a Massachusetts Republican in back-to-back elections? Answer: No.
2. Brown has a voting record. There's a reason why Barack Obama was the first senator since John Kennedy to be elected president. That reason? Senators vote too much and on too many complicated issues that can be sliced and diced by opposition researchers to cast a candidate in a poor light. And, in Brown's case, the electoral necessities of running and winning as a Republican in Massachusetts mean that there are any number of votes that wouldn't take much massaging to cast the former senator as something less than a conservative. Take his vote in favor of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" in the military, for example. Or in support of financial reform efforts being pushed by Democrats.
3. A losing Senate campaign is a bad springboard. Brown always faced a tough race in Democratic Massachusetts in 2012. But, in the end, his race against now Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) wasn't all that close. (Warren won by eight points.) It's hard to explain why you are running for the highest office in the country when your last race was a near-double-digit defeat. For those who cite Rick Santorum's surprisingly successful 2012 campaign, which came six years after he was blown out in his reelection bid, we say this: Santorum's strong social conservative beliefs meant he had a built-in base of support at the national level, backers who couldn't care less about what Santorum did in his last race. Brown doesn't have that same built-in fan base.
4. Brown has better options. Since losing the 2012 race to Warren, Brown has been floated as a candidate in the John Kerry special election (he, smartly, passed), the 2014 open Massachusetts governor's race and the 2014 New Hampshire Senate race. Any of those races are a better option for him than running for president -- if "better option" is defined as having an actual chance to win. We have written and continue to believe that Brown's best option BY FAR is to run for governor next year, since Massachusetts voters have shown a willingness -- or even a bent -- to put Republicans in the governor's mansion. Brown should think carefully about what race he chooses next; losing two contests in a row is a death knell for his political career.