The GOP’s Best Shot In New Hampshire

by Jonah Shepp & Patrick Appel

It’s semi-official: Scott Brown is running for Senate again:

In a speech that threw out red meat to conservative activists—praising the late Ronald Reagan and ripping ObamaCare, the IRS, and the 2009 stimulus package—and a call for both parties to come together for the betterment of the country, Brown announced Friday that he has formed an exploratory committee to prepare a campaign for the U.S. Senate. “A big political wave is about to break in America, and the Obamacare Democrats are on the wrong side of it,” said Brown, while noting that “There has to be a time and place where we act as Americans first, putting our country first.”

Sean Sullivan calls Brown a potential game-changer:

New Hampshire instantly becomes more competitive by virtue of Brown’s decision. Up until now, no other Republican with a prayer of defeating Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) had entered the race. Brown’s name recognition and his ability to raise big money make him a potentially formidable foe.

Something similar happened in Colorado when Gardner, a sitting member of Congress, announced last month that he would take on Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.). And while Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) is still a substantial frontrunner in Virginia, Gillespie, a former Republican National Committee chairman who announced his run in January, gives Republicans a glimmer of hope in Virginia that did not exist before he decided to run.

In short, Republicans now have more possible routes the the majority.

Molly Ball sizes up Brown’s chances:

The most recent public poll, released this week by Suffolk University, showed Brown losing to Shaheen by 13 percentage points; others have shown a closer race, though none has shown him winning. Still, New Hampshire, a state Obama won by about six points last time, is certainly friendlier territory for Brown than Massachusetts, which Obama won by 23.

A poll out today finds Brown behind by 12. Harry Enten bets against Brown:

[F]orget Shaheen’s strength; Brown is weak. His net favorability, an average -10 points in the two polls, shows that more Granite Staters dislike him than like him. In fact, Brown’s net favorable ratings are lower than every other GOP contender included in the January UNH poll. A less famous but more well-liked nominee might give Shaheen a stronger challenge.


Jazz Shaw chatted with a couple of New Hampshire GOP officials about the primary:

Both agreed that Brown seemed “like a very nice man” but expressed the same opinion that he isn’t really a New Hampshire guy. One went so far as to say, “Don’t get me wrong, Scott’s a good man. But he’s no Bob Smith.” (Smith, a former Senator, is also expected to get into the primary race.

The second official I spoke with brought up a different concern. After agreeing that Brown was a great guy, she leaned in a bit and said, “He’s really not right on guns, you know.” This is an issue which the media has already noted will likely dog Brown in his quest for the nomination.

Antle wonders if Brown’s Massachusetts baggage will hurt him:

The history of out-of-state political candidacies is decidedly mixed. Robert Kennedy, Jim Buckley, and Hillary Clinton all managed to parachute into New York and win Senate races. Former Tennessee Sen. Bill Brock was soundly defeated in Maryland, while Maryland transplant Alan Keyes failed even more spectacularly in Illinois.

John Fund doubts the carpetbagger attack with do much damage:

For now, Democrats are mostly tarring him as a carpetbagger, releasing a 48-second-video replete with Brown referencing his close ties to Massachusetts. But Brown is ready for the face-to-face campaigning New Hampshire demands and is quick to point out that he was born in New Hampshire, has owned property there and moved back in part to be close to his mother who lives there. His former “state of mind” isn’t likely to be a big issue, according to Andrew Cline, editorial page editor of the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s only statewide newspaper. “Over half of the state wasn’t born here,” he notes. “They root for Boston teams, watch Boston television and often work in Massachusetts, so it’s a porous border.

Bernstein entertains the idea that carpetbagging could catch on:

Politicians (and political operatives) are copycats: If Brown wins, then the odds are someone else will try something similar, and we’ll have another bit of evidence for the nationalization of U.S. politics. My guess is that although there is a chance he could win, Brown is more likely to become a punch line (like wannabe carpetbagger Harold Ford).