Politics

Ayotte: Scott Brown Would Be 'Very Strong Candidate' for Senate in N.H.

Ayotte praised Brown's work in the Senate (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

The Boston Globe reported Friday that national Republicans are actively recruiting former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown to run again — this time in New Hampshire.

With former Rep. Charles Bass the latest Republican to take a pass on the Senate race, the party is still in search of a top-tier challenger to take on Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Jerry Moran told the Globe that despite the speculation that Brown is simply flirting with a bid, he doesn't think the former senator "is just fooling around."

Of course, a successful Brown Senate bid would be nearly unprecedented. Just two senators have ever represented more than one state in the Senate, and it hasn't happened since the 1870s, according to a list maintained by the Senate Historical Office.

“It will be uphill, no question about it, for him,” former Rep. Jeb Bradley, who also took a pass on this race, told CQ Roll Call. “But I think he’s certainly got as good a chance as any Republican that I can think of to be successful.”

New Hampshire's other senator echoed that sentiment, believing that Brown would help expand the Senate landscape into New England.

“I served with Sen. Brown, I have a lot of respect for him,” Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said inside the Capitol on Tuesday in a brief interview with CQ Roll Call. “It’s up to him whether he’s going to run. But absolutely he’d be a very strong candidate.”

If Brown is planning to run for Senate, he's not showing it by building any semblance of a campaign operation, according to operatives in the state. And Brown's trips to Iowa, including one scheduled for next week, aren't deflating talk that he's considering a presidential bid.

Those who spoke with CQ Roll Call noted that Brown should come to a conclusion soon, as the appearance of flirting is not often rewarded by Granite State voters. Steve Duprey, a Republican National Committee member from New Hampshire, believes Brown would make an excellent candidate but said he hopes he's nearing a decision.

“I think if Sen. Brown waits too much longer it will be difficult for him to run,” Duprey said. “Traditionally, New Hampshire voters haven’t liked candidates who do a long dance about whether they’re in or not. The field is wide open, but I would encourage him to make a decision soon.”

Shaheen, who state Republicans conceded is a formidable incumbent, continues to enjoy strong favorability numbers. She led Bass by 17 points in a hypothetical matchup in the WMUR Granite State Poll released last month. But state and national Republicans believe she could be be vulnerable with the right opponent.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire Democrats are ready to go on the offensive against Brown, tying him to Wall Street and an “anti-women agenda.”

“Last year, the Massachusetts voters who knew him best rejected Scott Brown’s record; he shouldn’t expect different results in New Hampshire,” state Democratic Party spokesman Harrell Kirstein said in an email.

The race is rated Democrat Favored by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.