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February 10, 2016

Why Scott Brown Running in N.H. Is a Really, Really Bad Idea

Brown's 2012 campaign signs don't mention Massachusetts, so he could conceivably reuse them in New Hampshire. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call Staff File Photo)

Brown’s 2012 campaign signs don’t mention Massachusetts, so he could conceivably reuse them in New Hampshire. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Multiple media outlets are reporting that former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown, a Republican, hasn’t ruled out a bid for the Senate next year in New Hampshire.

I haven’t ruled out lots of things in my life that I don’t intend to do and am pretty sure I won’t do, and if that’s all that Brown means, fine.

But if Brown is serious about running for the Republican nomination in the Granite State, he needs to splash some cold water on his face, swallow a stiff drink and embrace the obvious: It’s a stupid idea.

Former senators who were defeated for re-election can’t simply go to another state — even if they have property there and have paid taxes there — and get elected to the Senate, especially if the state is politically competitive.

Former New Hampshire Sen. Robert C. Smith, for example, briefly tried running for Senate in Florida in 2004, two years after he was defeated in the Granite State GOP primary by John E. Sununu. He dropped out after finding that nobody in Florida knew who he was or cared.

For many voters, Brown would appear to be nothing more than “seat shopping” if he were to run in New Hampshire. He’d look like a perfect example of a personally ambitious politician who didn’t care who he represented as long as he had an office on Capitol Hill and the title of U.S. senator.

And coming after Republicans mocked Ashley Judd, who lives in Tennessee but grew up in Kentucky, for publicly mulling a run for the Senate from her home state, those same Republicans would look hypocritical if they backed Brown.

The Brown argument that this would be different because he has had property in the state and paid taxes there is a loser. He represented the people of Massachusetts in the Senate and he’d look like someone without principles — a carpetbagger who was more interested in his own career than in the country’s future — if he tried to move on to New Hampshire. After all, if he wants to be in the Senate, why didn’t he run in this year’s special election in Massachusetts?

Some Republicans are already asking, “What about Hillary Rodham Clinton?” To that they could add Bobby Kennedy.

But New York and New Hampshire are so different that the Clinton and Kennedy cases are irrelevant.

New York, with just more than 19 million residents, wasn’t and isn’t a swing state the way New Hampshire, with its 1.3 million residents, is. And while folks in New York City don’t know their neighbors (or want to know them), folks in New Hampshire are less impressed by celebrities and more interested in their neighbors.

Once Clinton was nominated, her celebrity, money and, most importantly, her party label gave her a huge advantage. On the other hand, Brown’s problems would only start if he got the GOP nomination in the Granite State. Local Republicans remain skeptical that Brown will run, per CQ Roll Call’s Kyle Trygstad and Abby Livingston.

In the general election, he would need support from casual voters and political independents, many of whom would wonder about his character and motives. To them, the idea of running for the same office in two states inherently sounds fishy.

If the National Republican Senatorial Committee embraces a Brown bid — indeed, if the folks at the committee don’t indicate, at least privately, that it’s a dumb idea — they are saying something pretty damning about the New Hampshire GOP.

They are saying that Granite State Republicans need to go out of state to find a strong candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. And that would be pretty pathetic in a state that is still very competitive.

  • Brooklynite

    Remember when Bill Weld tried to run for governor in NY in 2006? Brown should take a cue from the last nomadic Massachusetts Republican.

  • Carlos Mucha

    To be fair, Brown would be in good company. Daniel Webster represented both of those states in Congress (NH in the House, MA in the Senate).

    • BlueJoubert

      To be even more fair, times have changed. Your analogy has no bearing in New England, circa 2014. Thanks for the info though. A tidbit I wasn’t aware of.

      • Mitch

        Only democrats like Hillary Clinton and RFK can move to a different state to run for Senator. Not Republicans.

        • Rob_Chapman

          Dems like Clinton and Kennedy don’t belong to the states rights party.

    • Rob_Chapman

      Webster was appointed to the Senate by the legislature. that is an entirely different kettle of fish.

  • Bob Vanasse

    Just one observation: The Boston Media market spills over into the most populous part of NH, and NH in general tends to be philosophically more in tune with Scott Brown’s views then my home state of Massachusetts. In many ways, Southern New Hampshire has become the northern exurbs of Boston. I think it is a stretch but don’t think it is as insane an idea as Mr. Rothenberg suggests. I do, however, think a run for Governor of Massachusetts might make more sense.

    • Merrick Spiers

      My sentiments exactly. People who don’t live in the area don’t realize how Boston has spread into southern NH. And Brown would appeal to the NH independent conservatives

      • Rob_Chapman

        So the Boston voters who moved to NH will embrace his?

        If that were true, why couldn’t Brown beat the ultra-liberal candidate he ran against in 2012?

        Those Boston transplants in NH probably won’t like Brown any better than thier relatives back in the hub do.

  • Mark A Abramson

    If Brown really wants to run for the Senate in NH, he ought to move there and establish some roots for about 5 years before he runs.

    • A.B.

      Vermont and New Hampshire voters are quite different politically, but they share a low opinion of carpetbaggers who move to their state in order to run for office. Search for “Tuttle McMullen debate” and see how Jack McMullen managed to lose the Republican primary when he tried to become U.S. Senator from Vermont.

      And Scott — you might want to learn the pronunciation of Coos, Kancamagus, and Stratham.

  • ProfitOverLife

    So sad for Brown that you can’t simply secede a single senate seat…

  • Mitch

    Yeah, a bad idea for the liberals and stooge media.

  • floridawasp

    If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad, or the voters to Brown in Mass.

  • peterlake

    Brown said he supported a ban on modern sporting rifles (assault rifles).
    How’s that going to fly in the “Live Free or Die” state?

    First off, he was out of the Senate before any vote was being considered.
    Second, he sold out his party when he said that.
    Third, gun rights supporters would go to New Hampshire and embarrass him on a daily basis.

    • smokedaddy

      For mainstream Republicans, Brown was a liberal Republican we could rationalize with gritted teeth given he had to appeal to the voters of Massachussetts. But New Hampshire, while liberal on some issues, still has a core of pro gun anti-tax Republicans that will have a hard time choking down a liberal carpetbagger as the standard bearer for the party. Who’s the guy that gave Kelly Ayotte a close race in their primary? New Hampshire is a tough nut for the GOP these days, but with Obamacare and guns on the agenda in 2014, it should still be very doable with a more traditionally conservative nominee.

  • Rob_Chapman

    Isn’t it a stitch how the states rights party which is always carrying on about how different each state is now thinks it is ok for candidates to seat shop among those same divere states.

    Hypocrisy never stops a GOP pol from acting in his own interest– or claiming that the hypocrisy reflects high moral principle.

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