I don’t think I’m breaking any new ground by saying Godfather III was not a good movie. It had all the potential in the world, and we really wanted it to live up to its namesakes, but it just didn’t get the job done. It did, however, have one line for the ages, delivered by Michael Corleone after yet another assassination attempt, when he had to face the fact that all his efforts to legitimize his family had fallen to dust once again: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”
This is how I am feeling about Scott Brown right now.
I lived in Boston for forty years, and Scott Brown landed on my face after Ted Kennedy died in 2009. State Attorney General Martha Coakley declared her intention to run for his seat in the special election slated for January of 2010, and Scott Brown – a Republican who had served six terms in both the state House and Senate – won the GOP primary against perennial clown candidate Jack E. Robinson to earn the privilege of facing Coakley.
No one thought he had a chance – a Republican taking Ted Kennedy’s seat? – but a few things happened in relatively short order to upend the whole process. First, Coakley seemed to think the seat was hers by right, and pretty much didn’t bother to campaign. Second, the nascent molecules of what eventually coalesced into the Tea Party saw a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stick it to old-guard Democrats (Kennedy’s seat held by a Republican!) and flooded Brown’s campaign with cash. Third, and most important, it was a special election on a cold, rainy night in January. Turnout is low enough for midterm elections as it is, but on this night, I think maybe fourteen voters bothered to go to the polls, and nine of them were Republicans.
Add it all together, shake it up, and you’ve got instant landslide. For the first time since God wore diapers, Massachusetts would be represented in the US Senate by a Republican. I managed to wedge my way into the Dalton St. Marriott ballroom for the Coakley “victory party,” and if they had been handing out nooses as freely as they were handing out booze that night, there would not be a single living Democrat left in the Commonwealth.
This was my first Scott Brown campaign.
My second Scott Brown election came two all-too-short years later, because there is no gravity: the Earth just sucks. See, Ted Kennedy died midway through his six-year term, so they had to have an election to fill his seat, but then they had to have another election in 2012 when Ted would have been on the ballot for re-election, and so Scott Brown had to run again, and for the second time in two years, we were smothered by Vote For Me Because Of My Truck commercials from Scott Brown, lather, rinse, repeat.
…except, this time, Mr. Brown was forced to encompass the superior intellect of Elizabeth Warren, his Democratic opponent, and he was forced to encompass the fact that it was 2012, a presidential election year, which meant voter turnout would increase by orders of magnitude. By the time they finished hosing the blood off the walls, Elizabeth Warren was shopping for lodging in the nation’s capitol, and Mr. Brown was taking a law firm gig while doing occasional turns on Fox News.
This was my second Scott Brown campaign. My second in two years.
After that, it was quiet for a time. My wife and I had a daughter in April, and after lengthy consideration, decided last August that it was time to haul stakes for a quieter place to raise our child. So we moved to a patch of land on a dirt road beneath Mt. Monadnock in southwest New Hampshire, and settled in to ride out a long winter.
Scott Brown, whose star rose fast and set quickly in Massachusetts, began charting what he hopes will be a course to redemption in a new state, declaring on Friday that he will begin building a campaign for the US Senate in New Hampshire. His announcement at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference marked a turning point in a months-long political flirtation that had begun to grate on New Hampshire Republicans, who were eager for Brown to declare his intentions.
Brown said he would launch an exploratory committee, a step that allows him to begin raising money and hiring staff in hopes of challenging Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat. He said he would start touring the state on Saturday. “We look forward to meeting you and to this great journey ahead,” Brown said in a speech at the conference Friday afternoon, sparking enthusiastic applause in a room packed beyond capacity with Republican leaders and donors and national media.
Thus begins my third Scott Brown campaign in four years. Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.
But here’s the funny part: Shaheen is strongly popular in this state, the latest ARG poll has her leading Brown by 12 points, 27% of New Hampshire voters don’t know enough about Brown to have an opinion on him, 27% like him, 38% don’t like him, and the last person to win congressional elections in multiple states was Waitman Thomas Willey, who turned the trick in Virginia and West Virginia in the year of Our Lord 1879. It has not happened since.
Plus, Mr. Brown has a pile of issues from his voting record – support for a federal assault rifle ban, general disdain for anti-Roe crusaders, support for Obamacare before he was against it, and support for civil unions – that will make for some delightful hay when he faces his three far-right opponents in the GOP primary come September. Brown cancelled an Iowa trip to run for this office, said trip being widely acknowledged as him tickling the wires for a presidential run in 2016. Probably for the best.
So it does not appear that the stars are aligning for Scott Brown here in the Granite State. Beyond the fact that many Republican voters here look at Massachusetts carpetbagger candidates with the same disdain they’d look upon a flaming bag of dog doo left on their porch is the fact that those GOP voters are a dwindling breed; Kerry won New Hampshire in 2004, the first Democratic candidate to win the state since 1946, Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, and the only Republican representing New Hampshire at the federal level is Kelly Ayotte. This is not your father’s New Hampshire, Scott. Not any more.
Still, control of the Senate may very well turn on this race, so Brown is going to get all the monetary attention the RNCC can muster, along with lots of love from any outside sources he can cozen, and in the words of Mr. Dylan, “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”
So, yeah. Third time in four years. He followed me to New Hampshire. It’s like I lost a bet.
Hey, Scotty: I got here first, so now I’m going to follow you. Again.