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Granite State GOPers Eagerly Eye Scott Brown for U.S. Senate

Image: Granite State GOPers Eagerly Eye Scott Brown for U.S. Senate

By John Gizzi   |   Thursday, 16 Jan 2014 04:02 PM

Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown says he is being urged to run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.

One reason to do it, he tells Newsmax, is that the incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, is "with Barack Obama 97 percent of the time."

Republican Brown recently moved to New Hampshire and has yet to announce his political plans. But in an exclusive interview, he said he has been widely encouraged to run but has no timetable on a decision.

"I'm just in the process of getting our family moved to our home in Rye [N.H.]," said Brown, who is a commentator on Fox News. "But I certainly am moved by the number of people in New Hampshire who have come up to me and urged me to run."

Brown admitted that "I won't be able to make any claim of being a resident and will have to deal with the residency issue," but he pointed out that "60 percent of the voters in the state were born in other states.

“I'm like a lot of New Hampshire residents who left Massachusetts because taxation was too high."

Brown won a special election in Massachusetts for the seat of the late Ted Kennedy in 2010 but was unseated two years later by Democrat Elizabeth Warren.

Republicans in his newly adopted state are eager for him to run as their candidate against Shaheen.

A new Public Policy Polling survey among likely voters in the Granite State shows Shaheen, a freshman senator and former governor, edging Brown 46 percent to 43 percent. The same poll shows that 44 percent of likely voters approve of Shaheen's performance but 43 percent disapprove, with 13 percent undecided.

Ryan Williams, spokesman for the New Hampshire Republican Party, emphasized that the party organization is neutral in a primary in which three other Republicans are already vying for the Senate nod: Karen Testerman of the Cornerstone Policy Research think tank and a strong social conservative; former state Sen. Jim Rubens, who lost the nomination for governor in 1998; and former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith, who recently returned to the Granite State after a decade living in Florida.

According to the PPP poll, Shaheen leads those candidates by double digits.

"We pick our nominees the way we back presidential candidates in the first-in-the-nation primary — we support the candidate who we feel would be the best and strongest," Williams told Newsmax. "And Sen. Brown would be a very strong candidate against Sen. Shaheen."

Privately, other Republican activists make it clear that Brown's name recognition and the relative obscurity of the other contenders make him their best choice.

"I saw him speak at a Lincoln Day dinner back in May of last year and he also spoke at a Cultural Diversity event," longtime party activist and contributor Augusta Petrone told Newsmax. "He's outstanding. He would have made a superb candidate for governor and we certainly need one. But I would be thrilled if he ran for the Senate."

A self-styled moderate-to-conservative politician who has said he is perhaps closest to John McCain in his philosophy, Brown does not take the pro-life stand of most conservatives in the GOP. He backed gun control legislation while in the Massachusetts legislature and gun owner groups have picketed some of his speeches.

But supporters counter that New Hampshire is by no means the rock-ribbed conservative state it was a generation ago and someone more centrist-leaning might just be what is needed to defeat Shaheen.

Democrats certainly think so. The Democratic Senate Majority Political Action Committee has already launched a $150,000 advertising blitz against Brown, and Shaheen has unleashed several direct mail pieces slamming Brown for his former residency in Massachusetts.

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