Scott Brown won't seek open Senate seat, a blow to Republican hopes

Republican Scott Brown won't vie for US Senate seat vacated by John Kerry of Massachusetts, he said Friday. His decision increases the likelihood the seat will stay in Democratic hands. 

Alex Brandon/AP
Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 2012. Brown, who was defeated in his re-election bid, said Friday, that he will not run for the Senate seat vacated by John Kerry, who was named secretary of State.

Republican hopes to win back a seat in the US Senate took a hit Friday as former Sen. Scott Brown announced he would not run for a now-open seat from Massachusetts.

Mr. Brown gained national stature after he won an upset victory in a special election in 2010 after the death of Sen. Edward Kennedy, pulling that Senate seat out of Democratic control for the first time since Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. occupied it in 1953. Brown lost a hard-fought campaign to retain the seat in November, surrendering it to Elizabeth Warren.

Brown had been widely expected to run again, for the Senate seat vacated this week by John Kerry (D) in his move to become secretary of State.

“I have received a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate, and my competitive instincts were leading in the same direction,” Brown said in a statement released by his staff Friday.

But he said he would not run, opening the door for other Republicans to enter the fray but increasing the likelihood that Democrats will retain the seat.

Possibly hinting at a run for governor of Massachusetts in 2014, Brown said a Senate bid is “not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.”

Brown’s decision may be driven partly by calculations of his electoral prospects and partly by doubts about the policymaking climate in Washington. Then, too, he would have had to muster the energy for a third Senate campaign in about as many years – this one just seven months after his November loss.

In his statement, Brown also hinted at some exhaustion with campaigning and with Washington.

“I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time,” he said.

A run for Kerry’s seat would have put him on a five-month treadmill, ending in a June 25 special election.

Some polls suggest Brown would have an easier time winning the governorship than a Senate race. Massachusetts voters essentially split between Brown and US Rep. Edward Markey (D), in a hypothetical Senate race match-up, according to a Public Policy Polling survey released Wednesday. Representative Markey is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, but he'll have a contender in US Rep. Stephen Lynch (D).

But analysts at the polling group said that if undecided voters broke Democratic to the same degree they did for Ms. Warren in November, Brown would lose.

A win for governor can't be counted on as a slam dunk, but the poll found that for now Brown is a clear front-runner against some potential Democratic contenders for governor in 2014.

As a Republican from a heavily Democratic state, Brown won high favorability ratings among constituents in part for his political moderation and willingness to work with Democrats, and in part for his affability.

He’s known as a local-sports fan, an Army National Guard reservist, and a candidate who traversed the state in a pickup truck to meet voters. Early in life, Brown also had a range of childhood challenges (chronicled in his book “Against All Odds”), won a Cosmopolitan "America's Sexiest Man" contest, and worked as a fashion model while en route to a career in law and politics.

Brown’s 2010 Senate win, coming about 10 months ahead of scheduled congressional elections, served as a harbinger of the tea party tide that would sweep Republicans back into control of the US House of Representatives.

Now Republican leaders in the state face a scramble to select and rally around a candidate. Among the names in circulation are former Gov. William Weld and Kerry Healy, a former lieutenant governor.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.