For months now, former Senator Scott Brown, formerly of Massachusetts, has been flirting with New Hampshire. He talked about running for US Senate against NH Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Then he moved to NH in December. Then he talked some more. Some of the Republicans were thrilled by the idea, figuring that Senator Big Name would bring in all kinds of money. They need the money. So far greed trumps the anger emanating from the liberty crowd.
Brown has moved from flirting to heavy petting. No commitment, yet, but the windows are certainly steaming up. Last week he announced he was setting up an exploratory committee, and heading out on a listening tour of the state. This was a good thing - if he’s going to run for office, he needs to learn his way around the state. He packed up his carpetbag, and leaped into his shiny, waxed pickup, and headed off into the frost heaves.
Sen. Brown’s Twitter team (more on them later) tweeted out pictures every few hours. Scott Brown in Rochester at a diner. Scott Brown at Linos in Wakefield, having a chat with a group of men, including newly minted Executive Councilor Joe Kenney. There was a photo of Gene Chandler trying to sell Brown a time-share in N. Conway village. Next he went up to Berlin, where Mayor Paul Grenier commented that tourists were always welcome to visit and spend money.
The tour worked its way over much the first Congressional district. Senator Brown still doesn’t know where Peterborough and Keene are, but he’s got plenty of time to learn his way around his new state. Give the guy a break; he’s only been here for about 3 months. One picture, taken by James Pindell of WMUR, and sent out on Twitter showed some mud on his truck bumper along with some strategically placed duct tape. Yessir Mabel, he’s just like us.
The big question about all of this is pretty simple: who is Scott Brown going to be in NH? In Massachusetts he ran as a moderate Republican. In NH we don’t have moderate Republicans any more. Will Brown reinvent himself to fit in to his new state? Is he that big an opportunist? And why is his Twitter team preemptively blocking folks? They’ve blocked at least one state rep, my blogger friend Tuck at Miscellany Blue, and even blocked Dante Scala, who teaches poli-sci at UNH. A brief twitter campaign of #freedante turned that around, but, preemptive blocking on the part of someone who just moved to NH half an hour ago is odd.
There are things in his voting record that will please the tea partiers. He voted against a federal school breakfast supplement. He’s supported the use of torture. Brown is also a supporter of Big Oil, and Big Banking, and has voted to continue subsidizing them, while threatening cuts to Social Security and Medicare. (He may learn the hard way about the demographics of his NEW state full of OLD people.)
There are going to be some things that are tough for Senator Brown to explain. He voted for Romneycare, and may have a hard time convincing folks that Romney care is different from the ACA. It’s going to be tough to explain why he thought everyone in his OLD state deserved access to health insurance, but he doesn’t think everyone in his NEW state merits that same access. He supports the roving wiretaps of the Patriot Act, which will be hard to explain to the liberty crowd. Brown will learn the hard way that privacy is a big deal to NH voters. We can’t expect him to know everything – he’s only been here for 3 months.
In 2012 he said, “I’m a moderate, pro-choice Republican, and I always will be.” That probably isn’t going to go over well with today’s NH Republicans, who are desperate to eliminate regulations on everything BUT the uteri of half the population.
By far and away the biggest problem Senator Brown has when it comes to reinventing himself is GUNS. Ever since Obama took office the prevailing philosophy of the libertea fringe is MOAR GUNZ. Scott Brown, former moderate Republican, formerly of Massachusetts has not shown an adherence to the MOAR GUNZ philosophy. He’s been in favor of licenses and background checks. In 2012 he opposed right-to-carry reciprocity. In 2012 he was in favor of extending the state’s assault weapons ban, but not the federal. Then, in 2013, after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead, Scott Brown said okay to a federal ban on assault weapons.
How will Senator Brown bounce back from that? NH State Rep. JR Hoell has called Brown a “traitor to his oath to protect the US Constitution” because he was in favor of “gun control.” That was AFTER Hoell threatened armed insurrection if Brown were the GOP nominee. Will Brown have to wear Kevlar under his folksy barn jacket? How will he reinvent himself to be THE candidate running against Jeanne Shaheen? Poor Jack Kimball must be howling with rage inside his command center, as he scans the horizon for UN invaders.
The NH Republican Party is desperate for the dollars that Brown will bring to the state. Poor old former Senator Bob Smith isn’t going to get the dark money juices flowing, and neither is Jim “sycophants waiting to shake my hand” Rubens. The GOP doesn’t seem to have much of a bench. Young researchers are undoubtedly poring over deeds in vacation areas to find other well known, wealthy Republicans who might want to move quickly to NH and run for office. The NH GOP is open for business and Scottachusetts is obviously for sale.
© sbruce 2014
published as an op/ed in the March 21, 2014 issue of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper