You remember Scott Brown, right? He stunned the country a couple of years ago by beating Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley for the “people’s seat” held for more than 40 years by Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell hailed him as “41,” the key to Republican obstructionism, and their great hope for blocking the health care legislation that Kennedy himself had long championed.
He hasn’t entirely left politics, however, and he recently made his way to the Iowa State Fair, where prospective presidential candidates typically test the waters. There, amongst the corn dogs and the chainsaw carvers, Brown sought his future.
This weekend, the former Senator told the Boston Herald:
“I want to get an indication of whether there’s even an interest, in Massachusetts and throughout the country, if there’s room for a bi-partisan problem solver.”
As sometimes happens with Scott Brown, one wonders if he’s been paying attention.
The national GOP hasn’t been about problem solving for years. In fact, their stated objective has been to create as many problems for the president and, by extension, the country as they can. Not only are they trying to turn every possible move by the Obama Administration into an impeachable scandal, they also are campaigning for Americans to deny themselves healthcare, squeezing out the middle class, strangling the poor, and foiling any shot at a robust economic recovery through contrived debt ceiling fights and sequestration cuts. The biggest problem they seem to want to solve is how best to deny minorities the vote.
Anyone showing an inclination to bipartisanship and compromise has been excoriated by conservative Republican hard-liners and threatened with Tea Party primaries, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Of course, there are signs of cracks in the politics of non-stop outrage and alienation. Any drive to hold the country back socially or economically must have its natural limits, as the shift in momentum on gay rights and immigration would seem to indicate. Perhaps this is what Brown or his people are looking into. As he explained to the Des Moines Register:
“I want to see if there’s interest in my brand of politics, being a strong national security hawk and a fiscal conservative. The way I see it, hey, there’s plenty of room for people in the party like me and Sarah Palin and Rand Paul and Chris Christie, yet we’re always attacking each other for not fitting some ideologically pure mold.”
It’s an interesting theory: the Christie/Paul feud continues to melt down the Republican Party, and moderate, reasonable Scott Brown comes rising from the ashes in his “regular guy” pickup truck. It could happen.
There are just a few problems.
Being a Republican from Massachusetts is still not a ticket to anywhere else. Just ask Mitt Romney. Many have tried, but the only one who made it out in the last 30 years was the late Gov. Paul Cellucci and even then that was only to Canada. No matter what their actual record, Massachusetts Republicans are considered too liberal by the national party, and it’s hard to believe that Brown would be any different.
Though Brown largely voted along party lines, including votes against the DISCLOSE and Paycheck Fairness Acts, he was not the savior of Republicans that McConnell expected him to be. He was, and I say this with some admiration, a gifted political game player, using his vote as a bargaining chip wherever he could. Those games will probably not be forgotten by the party, and they won’t be looked upon kindly.
Brown is also rumored to be considering a run for a New Hampshire Senate seat. New Hampshire doesn’t always look favorably on Massachusetts politicians of any stripe, but Romney has a house there, and the state is very welcoming of retired military personnel. (Brown served in the National Guard for more than 30 years). Indeed, there are people in New Hampshire still displaying their McCain signs from the first time he ran for president. Brown is the kind of Republican that McCain used to be. Perhaps New Hampshire could be Brown’s Canada.
Finally, Brown has left open the possibility of running for governor of Massachusetts, and it is that race where he has the best shot. The state had a string of Republicans governors who were reasonably successful until they got bored. The current Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, cannot run again, and there is presently no obvious front runner in line for the nomination.
If, in spite of chasing the coattails of Antonin Scalia, Brown can regain his credentials as a moderate, he could win. He has to be really careful though. The Republican Governors’ Association came into Massachusetts with nasty attack ads to help get rid of an Independent candidate in the last governor’s race. They ended up destroying Republican Charlie Baker’s nice guy image and killing his support among moderates. Gov. Patrick, who was expecting a tough fight, easily won reelection. Additionally, Martha Coakley is rumored to be considering a run, and if she enters, she will not repeat the mistakes she made in their Senate race, making the contest way more interesting as a rematch than it might otherwise be.
Brown is in a difficult position. If he wants to run for president in 2016 or any time in the future, he will need the backing and financial support of the national Republican Party. But if he wants to run for governor in Massachusetts, the thing that could hurt him most is the backing and financial support of the national Republican Party.
Pass the Kettle Corn.
Melissa Tingley is a writer, instructional designer, and ten-year veteran of her local school board. A history and political junkie, she has been a blogger since 2006, chronicling life at her personal blog @ Home in the World, and showcasing the stories behind heirloom objects at her new blogArtifactual. Her writing has also appeared at The Women’s Colony and The Soccer Mom Vote. She lives and argues politics in Massachusetts.
Image Source: Beckwith-Zink (Diane) via Flickr.