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Scott Brown stirs speculation over U.S. Senate run at Nashua fundraiser

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Kelly Ayotte gets help from Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., in Concord, N.H., Friday, Oct. 29,2010.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Kelly Ayotte gets help from Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., in Concord, N.H., Friday, Oct. 29,2010.(AP Photo/Jim Cole)

Scott Brown received a mixed reaction from Republicans in Nashua last night, bringing to life the speculation surrounding his possible run for the U.S. Senate in New Hampshire.

Hours after announcing his move to Rye, the former Massachusetts senator spoke at the state Republican Party’s holiday fundraiser. Across the street, a crowd of gun rights activists gathered to protest Brown’s visit and chant a clear message: “Go home, Brown.”

Brown has still neither confirmed nor denied his intentions to seek Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s seat.

Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the state Republican committee, said last night that there is still plenty of time for candidates to enter the race before the September primary.

“Anyone who gets into a campaign here in New Hampshire has to be willing to answer tough questions from activists on all of the issues,” she said.

If Brown does join the Senate race, he would face a primary against at least three other candidates. Former two-term U.S. senator Bob Smith has announced he will seek the Republican nomination, as have former state senator Jim Rubens and conservative activist Karen Testerman.

Republican state Rep. Al Baldasaro, who joined the gun rights rally last night, said he is now considering his own run for the Senate seat.

“I like Scott Brown. He’s a nice guy and he’s trying to do what he can to help the Republican Party,” Baldasaro said. “But he’s also selling (his) books. He’s eating up all this press you’re giving him to sell books.”

Other Republicans have spoken favorably of Brown.

“I’ve spoken with Scott a number of times in the last couple months, and he would be a formidable candidate,” said Republican National Committee member Steve Duprey earlier this week.

To most, Brown’s intentions remain a mystery.

“I can tell you I have no idea,” said Tom Rath, a Republican strategist and Concord lawyer. “I’ve not heard from anybody, either, or anybody connected with him, so I have no idea how much of this is real and how much of this is speculation.”

Brown released a statement yesterday afternoon confirming he is leaving Massachusetts to live full-time at his home in Rye. He called the move a personal choice and said he has “nothing to announce” about his political plans.

“I’m not toying with them,” Brown told a group of reporters as he exited the back door of Nashua’s Hunt Memorial Building last night. “There are three good candidates running right now. . . . I have to establish residency, which I’ll be doing this week, and spend time over the holidays with the family.”

Brown’s indecision has led to widespread speculation and national media attention. Reporters gathered in downtown Nashua last night added to a rare scene where Democratic protesters mingled with the Republicans opposing Brown.

The more than 100 gun rights activists were the most visible, wearing orange and chanting phrases such as “Down with Brown.” The group held a raffle for a firearm and ammunition, and it expressed concern over Brown’s record of voting for gun control legislation.

Republican state Rep. JR Hoell, who helped organize that rally, said he thinks Brown is wrong for New Hampshire.

“I want a New Hampshire candidate,” he said. “I’ve had requests (for endorsements) from all three current candidates right now, and I want to see a level playing field. And I think the N.H. GOP bringing in an antigun carpetbagger is wrong.”

Brown acknowledged to reporters last night that he has supported gun control legislation in the past.

“When and if I’m a candidate, I’ll be happy to address that and every other issue,” he said. “But until then, you know, I have a record, and it’s there to criticize or praise, whatever.”

Duprey said he does not think New Hampshire voters would dismiss Brown as a carpetbagger, noting that he has long owned a home in Rye.

Brown’s success, Rath said, would depend on the type of campaign he ran.

“It’s a grassroots state,” he said. “You have to go out and build relationships and work hard and earn (voters’) support. I don’t know if they would find him disqualified because he lived someplace else, or even represented someplace else.”

The crowd of more than 100 Republicans at last night’s fundraiser was polite to Brown, said state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, who is running for the congressional seat now held by Democratic U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster. She said Brown spoke about the need for Republicans to stand against the Affordable Care Act.

“He basically talked about unity is important, and we all have a common goal,” Garcia said.

Democrats are closely watching Brown’s movements. New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley and former party chairwoman Kathy Sullivan attacked Brown in a conference call with reporters yesterday.

“If he gets into this race, he should not be surprised to find out that New Hampshire doesn’t care for what Massachusetts has already rejected,” Sullivan said, referring to Brown’s loss to Sen. Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts last year.

National groups are also weighing in on Brown’s political future. Ending Spending, a national Republican PAC, is running television ads against Shaheen and online advertisements promoting a “Draft Scott Brown” petition.

And there is no sign of an end to speculation about Brown’s future in New Hampshire.

Brown said Republicans at last night’s party were “not really” asking him about his political plans.

“I know you’re eager and others from the other side are eager . . . for me to make a decision, but there’s no pressure,” Brown told reporters before climbing back into his green pickup truck.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312, or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

Legacy Comments6

Why would the Concord Monitor Staff use an old picture from the AP with a current news caption with the story-line still intact that reads...Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Kelly Ayotte gets help from Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., in Concord, N.H.? If one weren't looking closely it would seem that Kelly Ayotte was parading Scotty around town to give an inference of a potential endorsement as the story unfolds. Your paper's getting to seem more like a left leaning rag by the day. I surly hope Representative Al Baldasaro runs for the US Senate seat. We the people need a politician to represent our state in Washington who has a backbone, and Marine one at that!

The uproar over Scott Brown as a potential challenger to Shaheen in NH is an excellent example of what's wrong with our political system. Those on the far-right abhor him. They stage their little rallies across the street where every other word out of their mouths is "gun." Those on the far-left abhor him. They say he's a right-wing nutjob. Now, it is impossible that Scott Brown could be both a "liberal, progressive" and a "hard-right whacko." the truth is, he's a moderate. And that's why both sides hate him so much. They're afraid of him because he thinks for himself and doesn't follow either party line. He sometimes votes with Democrats. He sometimes votes with Republicans. Scott Brown is exactly who we need MORE OF in politics. The extremes be damned. This is why we need to DO AWAY WITH OUR TWO PARTY SYSTEM!!!

All I ever hear about Hoell is gun this and gun that. His answer to all our woes is guns. Or ending the program in question. I happen to like guns quite a bit myself, but I don't really see or hear much of anything intelligent coming from the Hoell camp. I wouldn't vote for him. Scott Brown? He's already been sent packing by Massachusetts, even though he is a moderate. Lots of puff, not much of a record to be proud of. There are reasons why someone gets voted out after 1 term in office.

Yes you are correct there is a reason why someone gets voted out after 1 term in office. 1) a woman who lies about her heritage and gets a position at Harvard through EEOC government rules by claiming to be Native American when she is not is given a free pass by the press; 2) the press in Massachusetts is very liberal and do not allow fair, unbiased coverage based on "facts'; 3) the Democrat candidate outspends the other candidate and makes promises to low information voters who really don't know any better, thinking that they will be getting a handout; 4) the press lies about the opposing candidate and does everything in their power to defeat them; 5) one candidate outspends the other by millions.

Well if JR Hoell is against Brown he may be worth considering. I do think he could be a good choice. However he tends to be moderate so he may not fit in with the zealotry of some of our more outspoken protectors, of their version, of the Constitution. As in freedom of speech as long as it agrees with them: letting people starve and die if they don't work and can't afford medical help and so on.........

I like scott brown but he has to lighten up on gun control , we ware enough laws no need to prosecute and convict people who commit crime with guns instaed we plea bargin to lesser charge

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