WASHINGTON –- Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown (R) is "warming to the idea" of a run for a U.S. Senate seat in New Hampshire, but still thinks he has plenty of time to decide, a political operative who speaks with Brown on occasion told The Huffington Post on Wednesday.
Brown believes he can make a decision even beyond January before he would have to jump in, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The source added that Brown believes his likelihood of challenging Jeanne Shaheen, the state's Democratic first-term senator, has gone up over the last few weeks, but the chances for a run are still only at about 50 percent.
The sudden movement this week behind the idea of a Brown candidacy could be read as a reaction to another former U.S. senator's entry into the race. Robert C. Smith, a Republican who held the Granite State's U.S. Senate seat from 1990 to 2003, announced Sunday he will challenge Shaheen.
A highly placed Republican campaign operative in Washington sent reporters a link this week to a story touting a "Draft Brown" Tumblr page. The Drudge Report promoted the same story. One New Hampshire Republican operative also contacted this reporter to note Brown's increasing activity in the state, including a scheduled Dec. 19 speech to the New Hampshire GOP.
The conservative editorial board at Foster's Daily Democrat, a Dover, N.H., newspaper, wrote Wednesday that Smith's candidacy is "an effort we hope will fail and fail quickly so as not to muddy the waters for credible candidates."
But Smith is not considered a major factor by New Hampshire Republicans. He ran for president in 2000, first as a Republican, then as the Constitution Party candidate, and then as an independent, and in 2004 he endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president.
The Brown source said the former senator's growing appetite for a run has been fed by two-months' worth of stories about Obamacare's failed launch, and the impact that fallout may have had on Shaheen's reelection chances.
"Several months ago senior New Hampshire Republican operatives scoffed at the idea of Brown running for Senate in the Granite State," the source said. "Now they see Shaheen's blood in the water after the ObamaCare rollout debacle and think she can be beat. After a number of potential in-state candidates took a pass, there is now universal agreement that he is the strongest nominee for Republicans in that race."
Brown mentioned the impact of Obamacare on New Hampshire, specifically, in an op-ed he wrote this week for FoxNews.com.
A second New Hampshire Republican, however, said there are no current signs of Brown laying the groundwork for a run. To do so, he'd have to assemble a brain trust, which usually includes a consultant, a campaign manager, a pollster, an ad firm, and eventually a campaign staff of about 15 people, the operative said.
Right now, Brown consults with a few of his former advisers from past campaigns, but does not have any political operation to speak of. He joined a Boston law firm last spring, and has recently spent some of his time learning to play the guitar, even joining the band Cheap Trick on stage during a concert in Hampton Beach, N.H., to play "Surrender." Brown has used his Facebook page to update supporters on his latest musical exploits, as well as to sell copies of his 2011 book Against All Odds, along with bobble head dolls.
"Getting close to Christmas. If you still want to purchase my book or bobbleheads, I still have 10 bobbleheads left, 10 leather bound books and about 100 hardcover. Leather bound books are $75, bobbleheads and hardcover are $15," he wrote on Nov. 27.
Brown advertised the P.O. Box in Wrentham, Mass., to which purchasers could send payments, and added, "Let me know how you want it signed."