On Thursday night, after speaking at a Nashua, N.H., dinner to commemorate the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, former senator and current Fox News contributor Scott Brown (R-Mass.) jumped into the 2014 Senate race. He didn't declare his candidacy, or announce an exploratory committee, or even commit to challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), but when asked about a bid for Shaheen's seat, he told reporters he's "not going to rule out anything right now."
"While that seems like it could have been an offhand comment," says New York's Margaret Hartmann, Brown waved enough other red flags to signal that he may in fact be "addicted to running for Senate," and New Hampshire is his next fix. "I don't think I'm done with politics," he said, adding, "New Hampshire's like a second home."
That last part "just so happens to be true," say ABC News' Arlette Saenz, Michael Falcone, and Elizabeth Hartfield. As he explained to a Portsmouth, N.H., newspaper in 2011, he was born at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (actually in Kittery, Maine), his grandparents are buried in the Granite State, he still has family living there, and he plans to retire at his second house in Rye, N.H. In case reporters didn't know any of that, Brown clued them in on Thursday: "My mom and sister and family live here. Spent summers here growing up. Have a house here. Been a taxpayer for 20 years."
Brown also noted that he'll be returning to the state for political events several times over the next few weeks, starting with an April 20 luncheon for the Grafton County Republican Committee. And he's been dropping hints about his love for New Hampshire, and his Granite State bona fides. Here's a tweet from a month ago:
In any case, thanks to the home he owns there, and New Hampshire's relatively loose eligibility requirements, Brown would probably have no trouble entering the race. Should Shaheen be worried? The Democrats don't seem to be at this point. "Is it possible to quote someone laughing?" says Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Justin Barasky. The New Hampshire GOP is "clearly in a state of utter panic if they are recruiting failed Massachusetts politicians like Scott Brown," adds Harrell Kirstein of the state Democratic Party, which is, predictably, already soliciting donations based on Brown's possible interest.
On the other hand, says ABC News, "the Granite State tends to be a friendlier territory for Republicans than Massachusetts, offering greater political appeal for the former senator." It's true that "New Hampshire is swingier than Massachusetts," says Rachel Weiner at The Washington Post. But "a recent WMUR Granite State Poll found Shaheen comfortably positioned for re-election with a favorability rating of 59 percent," and Brown would have to sweep aside the New Hampshire Republicans who also want the seat, possibly including the man Shaheen defeated, John Sununu.
But will New Hampshire voters?
In any case, if Brown decides to run, and wins, he wouldn't be the first transplant to pull it off, says ABC News' Jonathan Karl:
While it is highly unusual for somebody to represent two different states in Congress, it is not without precedent. In fact one of the most celebrated members of Congress ever — Daniel Webster — was elected from both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. Several senators have represented two states and one — the legendary James Shields — holds a record that will stand forever: Representing three different states in the Senate (Illinois, Minnesota, and Missouri). [ABC News]