In a rather unpleasant surprise for Bay State Republicans, former Senator Scott Brown announced he would not be running for the Senate seat made vacant by the appointment of John Kerry to be Secretary of State.
Brown would be facing an uphill battle against one of several well funded, well known Democrats in the June 25 special election. But the prospect of a third Senate campaign in four years, plus the increase in partisan rancor in the Senate apparently decided the matter for him.
Scott Brown, who surprised the political world with his upset victory in the 2010 special election, announced Friday afternoon that he will not enter the special election to replace John F. Kerry.
“I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time,” Brown said in a statement. “And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.”
Brown’s decision leaves the Republican Party scrambling to find a viable candidate for the June 25 election. To make the ballot, candidates must gather 10,000 certified signatures in four weeks.
Brown had long been considered the party’s strongest and most likely candidate. The party may now turn to former governor William F. Weld or former lieutenant governor Kerry Healey.
Beyond that, the list of credible candidates is thin. Weld has left open the possibility he would run, but associates say he is unlikely to leave his law and consulting practice to resume a political career.
Healey has not ruled out a run, but has said she was hoping that Brown would be the nominee.
Other possible Republican candidates Gabriel Gomez, a businessman and former Navy SEAL from Cohasset, and State Representative Daniel Winslow, a former district court judge who has served in the Romney administration and has higher political aspirations.
Brown pointed out that if he won the special election this year, he would have to gear up for a fourth campaign in 2014. Even a political superman would find it a challenge to adequately fund and run four statewide campaigns in 5 years.
How about Governor Scott Brown? Democratic Governor Deval Patrick will likely not seek a third term which makes a run for state executive more attractive in 2014. Of course, Brown will still face the same Democratic 3-1 registration advantage, but Massachusetts voters have proven themselves more likely to vote for a Republican to fill a state office, rather than a federal one.
Then again, Brown may wish to find lucrative employment in the private sector. It’s clear from his statement that he is out of step with the GOP as it is presently constituted:
“When I was first sent to the Senate in early 2010, it wasn’t exactly welcome news for President Obama or many other Democrats,” he said. “Yet among my best memories from those three years in office are visits to the White House to see the President sign into law bills that I had sponsored. I left office last month on the best of terms with colleagues both Republican and Democrat. I had worked well with so many of them, regardless of party, to serve the public interest just as we are all supposed to. All of this was in keeping with the pledge I made at the beginning to do my own thinking and to speak for the independent spirit of our great state.
Saying anything nice about President Obama and the Democrats is heresy, and would not ingratiate him with national conservatives. But Brown always demonstrated an independence on many issues that cut against the grain of Republican politics. I’m sure there are at least some on the right who are breathing a sigh of relief that the former Senator will be sitting this one out.