Robert F. Kennedy did it. So did Hillary Clinton. But can Scott Brown pull it off?
Can Mr. Brown pack his (carpet)bag, move to another state, and hope to win a US Senate seat – as did the two former senators from New York?
When Brown on Friday set in motion his campaign to challenge incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, it took Democrats about two seconds to cobble together a video showing Brown on many occasions declaring himself a proud resident of Massachusetts.
That’s when he successfully ran for the Senate seat held for nearly 47 years by the late Ted Kennedy.
Brown was an attractive candidate – conservative but not too tea partyish for relatively liberal Massachusetts – a real estate lawyer with a rough upbringing, a Boston College Law School degree, and more than 30 years in the National Guard who campaigned around the state in his pickup truck.
Brown beat state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) in a special election in 2010. But in the regular election two years later, he lost to Harvard law professor Elizabeth Warren – an unabashed liberal and consumer advocate who focused her attention on large financial institutions at a time when big banks were not the most popular businesses in America.
Early polls suggested that a Brown-Shaheen race could be a toss-up, but more recent surveys indicate she has a sizable lead, according to the Boston Globe. A Suffolk University poll released last week found Brown would pose a strong challenge to Shaheen, but still trails her 52 percent to 39 percent, with 9 percent undecided, the Globe reported from Nashua, NH, Saturday.
On Friday, Brown noted that his well-traveled pickup – now adorned with “Live Free or Die” New Hampshire license plates – was approaching 300,000 miles.
He’ll need it if he’s too overcome any perception that he’s a newcomer to the Granite State. (He moved to his family’s vacation home there last summer and registered as a New Hampshire voter in December.)
“New Hampshire is a traditional retail politics state,” Matt Mowers, executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, told the Globe. “The voters here want to hear you talk two or three times, not just once. People are much more interested in where you stand on issues and how you’ll help them.”
Like virtually every Republican running for election or re-election, Brown is zeroing in on the Affordable Care Act as his prime target.
“If we don’t like Obamacare, we can get rid of it. Period,” Brown said in his speech Friday at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua. “A big political wave is about to break in America, and the Obamacare Democrats are on the wrong side of that wave.”
Outside influence is likely to be a big issue in New Hampshire’s senatorial race.
American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s super PAC, is about to launch $600,000 in attack ads against Shaheen.
“Scott Brown is for Scott Brown and the powerful interests that back him, not New Hampshire,” New Hampshire Democrats said in a statement. “New Hampshire isn’t going to let Scott Brown and his big oil buddies like the Koch brothers buy themselves a Senate seat.”
(Wealthy industrialists David and Charles Koch are founders of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative political advocacy group.)
On Saturday, Shaheen sent a letter to Brown asking him to sign the "People's Pledge," the same thing he agreed to while running against Warren two years ago.
“I have signed and attached two copies of an agreement with the exact same terms for the New Hampshire 2014 Senate race,” Shaheen wrote. "I hope you will join me in once again committing to the same People’s Pledge you signed in Massachusetts and limiting the influence of outside groups in New Hampshire this year."
Brown quickly knocked back that idea, calling it “hypocritical and self-serving.”
"Before I even thought of becoming a candidate, Jeanne Shaheen's allies in Washington were running negative ads against me for months," Brown said. "And right now, while I'm meeting with the people of New Hampshire, she is on the West Coast raising money so third-party groups in DC will have money to run even more outside negative ads against me."
Politico.com reported that Shaheen is spending the weekend with other female Senate candidates fundraising in Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Brown’s nomination – assuming he moves beyond his exploratory effort to official candidacy – is no slam dunk
Former US Sen. Bob Smith, former state Sen. Jim Rubens, and conservative activist Karen Testerman, have announced for the seat as Republicans.
Smith says he and the other two declared candidates "are being ignored by the establishment.”
"This is really something,” he told the New Hampshire Union Leader. “To have a Massachusetts liberal being promoted, actually being pushed, by the powers in Washington and the establishment here in New Hampshire to run against three people who have been on the ground here for decades is really pretty bizarre.”