New State, New Scott Brown, Or So He Says — But Can He Win The New Hampshire Senate Seat?
If you can't get to Washington through one state, just move to another. At least, this is the mentality under which Scott Brown seems to operate. Brown was first elected to Senate in Massachusetts to fill the seat vacated by the death of Ted Kennedy. Now Scott Brown is running again — in New Hampshire. And while re-running after a defeat in an election is not so uncommon, switching states to do so sure is.
Brown officially announced his intention to run against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) on Thursday, announcing to an audience in Portsmouth, NH: “I will answer only to you, the people of New Hampshire.” Of course, just a few years ago, he was only answering to the people of Massachusetts, but who's keeping count.
When Brown was elected to Senate in 2010, he shocked the entire political scene by making his way into a seat that had been held for 47 years by Ted Kennedy, a man the New York Times called the "liberal lion of the Senate." Brown, who touted himself as an "everyman" of Massachusetts and even featured his pickup truck in one of his commercials, depended heavily upon the independent vote for victory.
In 2010, 65 percent of voters who identified as "independent" planned to cast their ballots for Brown. This was particularly notable because today's independents lean increasingly leftward, but Republican Brown still handed his Democratic opponent a decisive loss four years ago.
Brown, a man who made no secret of his support for waterboarding as an interrogation technique, opposed federal programs to reduce carbon emissions, and worked tirelessly against Obama's affordable care act (which Brown's predecesor, Ted Kennedy, called "the cause of my life") was unsurprisingly voted out of office in 2012 by Elizabeth Warren, who defeated him handily in an eight point race.
But now, Brown is back at it once again, with hopes that his independent streak will serve him well in New Hampshire, a state that doesn't require you to buy car insurance and whose motto is "live free or die."
Brown's main accusation against incumbent Sen. Shaheen seems to be her support of Obamacare, to which Brown is still ardently opposed. Calling her a "rubber stamp" for the Obama administration and attacking her loyalty to her party and her president, Brown vowed to be a "true independent voice" for the people of New Hampshire, much as he was for the people of Massachusetts -- until they decided they didn't want him anymore, that is.
Brown represented Massachusetts until January 2013, but in keeping with his independent streak, proved that loyalty knows no state boundaries, now that he's campaigning hard for the New Hampshire vote. Brown's campaign message is strangely reminiscent of that used in his other campaign, the one in which he said that his Massachusetts victory was a sign that the "independent voice [had] spoken."
Of course, Brown isn't getting it very easy in New Hampshire, already being branded as a carpetbagger. And while fortune may favor the bold, elections don't tend to favor senators who try to switch states, as history has shown. In fact, Talking Points Memo notes:
According to the U.S. Senate Historical Office, only two senators have represented multiple states in the history of the chamber: Sen. James Shields (D) served as senator from Illinois, Minnesota and Missouri in the 19th century and Waitman Thomas Willey who represented Virginia and West Virginia roughly around the same time.
Sorry, Scotty, but the precedent doesn't look so hot.
Moreover, Brown's continuing attack of Obamacare might not be as effective as it was in 2010, especially with Democrats scrambling to get healthcare back on the right track. For example, the Obama administration's recent decision to back down from proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans in favor of a slight payment increase demonstrates the Democrats efforts to quell complaints about the new healthcare law, especially in light of upcoming midterm elections.
Medicare Advantage, generally considered a more comprehensive plan than traditional Medicare, covers approximately 30 percent of the 50 million older Americans on Medicare. Cuts to the plan would've adversely affected the approximately 16 million 65 or older individuals who use the program, and given that older voters are the most likely to vote in the midterm elections, Democrats are trying hard not to rock the boat.
Moreover, Kathleen Sibelius' resignation early Friday seems to be an attempt to take any of the drama associated with Obamacare away with her, and with recent enrollment victories like the 7.5 million signups landmark reached Thursday, it seems that the Affordable Care Act is becoming less and less of a viable target.
Regardless, we'll have to see whether Scott Brown's second bid at Senate is a successful one. Sheehan's current considerable lead in the polls seems to bode poorly for the Republican hopeful, but maybe if this doesn't work out, he'll try Vermont.