Nashua, N.H. — You can tell Scott Brown is into waves. The former Massachusetts senator appeared at a gathering of Republican activists in New Hampshire this weekend to announce he was challenging Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen. “A big political wave is about to break in America,” he said, “and the Obamacare Democrats are on the wrong side of it.”
Brown was the beneficiary of a wave of public indignation against the Senate’s midnight passage of Obamacare in December 2009. The next month he stunned the country by winning Ted Kennedy’s vacant Senate seat by rebranding it as “the people’s seat.” But then in 2012 he lost to Elizabeth Warren as the presidential turnout machine of Barack Obama flooded the polls.
This year, Obama is not on the ballot but Brown is convinced the failure of Obamacare means he can catch another wave. He mentioned Obamacare no less than six times in his brief announcement speech. “There’s only one way to get rid of Obamacare once and for all, and that is to get rid of the Obamacare Democrats who rammed it through Congress and forced it upon the American people,” he roared to a standing-room only crowd.
For now, Democrats are mostly tarring him as a carpetbagger, releasing a 48-second-video replete with Brown referencing his close ties to Massachusetts. But Brown is ready for the face-to-face campaigning New Hampshire demands and is quick to point out that he was born in New Hampshire, has owned property there and moved back in part to be close to his mother who lives there. His former “state of mind” isn’t likely to be a big issue, according to Andrew Cline, editorial page editor of the Union Leader, New Hampshire’s only statewide newspaper. “Over half of the state wasn’t born here,” he notes. “They root for Boston teams, watch Boston television and often work in Massachusetts, so it’s a porous border.”
At a reception held after his announcement, Brown said he’s been most impressed during his time out of office about just how much independent voters have become cynical about the system. “I think we can convince them we can get Washington to work, but first we have to have some new people there,” he told me. No doubt he hopes to be one of them, and right now most political handicappers view him as an even bet to win.