(WASHINGTON) -- Scott Brown made another appearance in New Hampshire on Wednesday, visiting with potential voters in Londonderry. It’s the latest event on his Will He-Won’t He Run for U.S. Senate tour in the Granite State. So will he? According to the Eagle-Tribune, Brown visited the Harold Square restaurant, which sounds like a stop on the campaign trail.
But, in an e-mail to ABC News, Brown would only say, “Nothing has changed. I’m all set. Thanks for checking,” signing it with an “SB,” and then following up with a YouTube video of his daughter, recording artist and former American Idol contestant Ayla Brown singing “O Holy Night.”
Brown may be coy, but he has steadily been making moves in the direction of challenging current Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen -- despite the fact that he’s a former senator from neighboring Massachusetts. He owns a home in Rye, N.H., and put his home in the Bay State up for sale in September.
Brown has been popping up all over the state in the past few months and on Dec. 19, will headline the New Hampshire Republican State Committee’s holiday luncheon. And just this week, he penned an op-ed on FoxNews.com focusing on Obamacare’s effects in New Hampshire, appearing to take a shot at Shaheen.
Former aides, people familiar with his thinking, and those in the know in New Hampshire all say no one really knows the answer, aside from Brown, and that he’s still making up his mind.
One former aide of Brown’s put his chances at 75-25. A Republican strategist familiar with his thinking put the odds at 50-50.
“In September, I would have said there was a 20 percent chance, now it is 50 percent or higher, but it’s still very tentative,” the strategist told ABC News, adding it is “by no means a done deal. He has a good career in the private sector, I think he enjoys his life now, but he is inherently a competitive person and sees the opportunity and thinks he can win.”
The strategist, who like others in this piece did not want to be named discussing Brown’s thinking, said Brown is “going to watch and see what Jeanne Shaheen’s numbers look like after the holidays and then make a decision.” But, he added, “I wouldn’t expect a January announcement.”
The filing deadline in New Hampshire is late -- June -- but it’s likely Brown won’t wait that long because Republicans say his indecision is keeping well known and more credible candidates on the sidelines. Just this week, former Sen. Bob Smith got into the race, but his two previous Senate runs in Florida as well as switching party affiliations is likely to be problematic for him. Conservative activist Karen Testerman and former state Sen. Jim Reubens have already declared their candidacies.
Brown may not rile up the most conservative voters in the state. He has expressed support for a federal assault weapons ban, and second amendment issues are important in New Hampshire. But Republicans in the state say because of how well known Brown is, they would easily coalesce around him.
Although he would get cries of “carpetbagger” from Democrats, New Hampshire and Massachusetts share a media market so he is well known in the state. Those around him also say he’s more likely to jump in now that Obamacare has become a clear issue for any Democrat running in 2014. It’s an issue he’s familiar running on. When he did win in 2010 to fill Ted Kennedy’s seat after his death, he won campaigning heavily against Obamacare; but two years later, he lost to Elizabeth Warren by almost eight points.
“Obamacare is proving to be an issue that is turning safe Democrats into vulnerable Democrats,” said Will Ritter, a Massachusetts GOP consultant and former Brown staffer. “Scott Brown has run against Obamacare before successfully, he has got deep ties to New Hampshire...he knows how to raise money, knows how to campaign hard, and he’s likeable.”
If Brown does get in, the race will likely skyrocket to the one of the most competitive and highly watched in the country.
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