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John DiStaso's Granite Status: Jeb Bradley unfazed by possible Scott Brown US Senate run

April 07. 2013 9:54PM

IS HE SERIOUS? The state and national political scene are still buzzing this weekend, after former Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown suggested at a Nashua appearance that he just might challenge Democrat incumbent Jeanne Shaheen next year for the U.S. Senate.

Twitter has been spinning, with "#bqhatevwr," a botched Brown Tweet from January, trending.

Emails were flying. Both political parties loved it and cashed in with fund-raising pleas.

People will continue to talk until Brown puts the speculation to rest, one way or another.

Brown, after speaking to the New Hampshire Cultural Diversity Council's 11th annual "Keeping the Dream Alive" Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dinner Thursday night, was asked about several appearances he has scheduled for the Granite State this spring.

Since we first reported his April 20 appearance at the Grafton County Lincoln Day dinner, there has been speculation that maybe - just maybe - Scott Brown is thinking of capitalizing on the Rye address of his vacation home and his family ties to the state to run for the Senate from here.

"I don't think I'm done with politics," Brown told reporters after the event, referring to a Senate run.

"I'm not going to rule out anything right now because I haven't thought a lot about it."

That's all he needed to say to start the fun.

State Democratic Chairman Raymond Buckley had a fund-raising email out within an hour of the Brown story breaking.

"Are you kidding me?" Buckley wrote. "During his brief time in the U.S. Senate, (he) worked to weaken regulations on big banks while accepting tens of thousands of dollars in contributions from their well-heeled executives.

"Scott Brown is simply wrong for New Hampshire," Buckley wrote, asking for "rush" contributions.

By the next morning, Buckley said his party had "the best 12 hours of fund-raising we've ever had, and it was overnight."

He said the limited tickets that remained for the party's "100 Club" dinner on Saturday night at the Executive Court in Manchester were nearly sold out.

Bill Shaheen, the senator's husband, answered Buckley's question (and ours) with his own fund-raising email.

"This is serious," Bill's email warned. "Brown's campaign spent $40 million in 2012. Most of that went to lie-filled attack ads. He'll try the same thing against Jeanne - and with Wall Street bankers Karl Rove and the Tea Party Super PACs behind him, he could raise even more.

"We need your contribution immediately to build up Jeanne's war chest, fight back and win."

The New Hampshire Republican Party, taken by surprise, didn't panic. Far from it.

"Jeanne Shaheen is very vulnerable," said party Chairman Jennifer Horn. "It will be a competitive race and we are accustomed to competitive primaries in the Republican Party.

"I think voters will give Scott Brown an honest chance if he runs," Horn said.

"I take him at his word," said Horn. "If he says he's considering it, then I believe he's really considering it."

That's not quite a blessing, but Horn said nothing to deter Brown.

She noted that Brown has booked three more events in the state over the next month and at least two of them are party events: the Grafton County dinner and a Cheshire County Lincoln Day dinner on May 3.

With the attention focused on Shaheen, Horn followed with her own fund-raising plea.

"New Hampshire can't afford six more years of Jeanne Shaheen's job-killing policies that are crushing the middle class," she wrote. "But we need your time, effort and donations to help Republicans defeat her and return fiscal sanity to Washington."

So where does this go from here?

A political associate who keeps in regular touch with Brown put it this way:

"Even though Scott has kept open the idea of a return to politics, there is no campaign - not even the beginnings of one. He stays politically active, and you'll see him speaking to groups all over the country, including New Hampshire.

"That sometimes gets his competitive juices flowing," the associate said. "But when it comes to his future, Scott hasn't ruled anything in and he hasn't ruled anything out. His focus right now is on his job in the private sector. He's a long way from becoming a candidate."

That private-sector job, by the way, is with the Nixon Peabody law firm, which has a significant presence in New Hampshire. He also comments for Fox News.

BRADLEY NOT BACKING DOWN. Brown's comments raised the question of which Granite Staters are truly interested in pursuing Shaheen's seat.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley still is.

A source close to him confirmed he continues to seriously weigh a Senate run "as an option" in 2014. He has been making appearances statewide, including scheduled appearances Saturday with the Keene State College Republicans and with the Cheshire County GOP at the Walpole Town Hall.

"Scott is a really good guy and I like him," Bradley told us. "He will be a credible candidate should he run."

Former U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta hasn't ruled out a Senate run, but we understand he is being encouraged - and appears more interested at the moment, at least - in trying to regain the 1st District U.S. House seat with still another race against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. There may be an effort to clear the GOP field for him should he choose to do that.

Another name that has re-surfaced is Fred Tausch, a Merrimack businessman who headed and funded an issues group called STEWARD of Prosperity in the post-stimulus days of 2009 and who that year flirted with the idea of running in the 2010 Senate race eventually won by Kelly Ayotte.

John E. Sununu? There has been no indication that he intends to pursue a rubber match with Shaheen.

If he was interested, would his brother, Chris, be talking about running for governor or the U.S. House?

We think not.

REMEMBERING CHUB. Tom Rath, longtime GOP strategist, initially reacted to the Brown news by tweeting on his @polguru account: "Two words. Chub Peabody."

It was a reference to the late Massachusetts governor who, as a resident of Hollis, ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate seat against Warren Rudman in 1986.

But Friday, Rath was more circumspect.

"It's not like he would be moving here from New Mexico or someplace where he would not understand the issues," he said. "And he's a good, solid New Hampshire Republican in terms of how he approaches the issues.

"But the idea of moving here and running immediately for something like that? I don't know, especially against somebody like Senator Shaheen," he said.

Another veteran political strategist, Mike Dennehy, was critical.

"His comments make for fun talk around the water cooler," he said, "but it is not realistic and not particularly respectful of the people of New Hampshire."

Dennehy called Brown "a serious guy with a serious future," but he said the idea of jumping the border just to run for the U.S. Senate would not play well in the state.

Still, others have relocated to New Hampshire and run for high office, and many have won. But none in our memory, or the memories of political vets, have relocated to New Hampshire and immediately run.

Former Sen. Gordon Humphrey came from Connecticut. Former Sen. Bob Smith and Guinta are from New Jersey.

John Rauh, who challenged Judd Gregg in 1992, is from Ohio.

Former Gov. Meldrim Thomson was born in Pennsylvania and grew up in Georgia and Florida. But he lived in New Hampshire for more than a decade before making his first run for governor.

And yes, even Shaheen was born in Missouri and went to high school in Pennsylvania and college there and Mississippi. But she moved to New Hampshire in 1973, 17 years before being elected to the state Senate.

Governors Maggie Hassan and John Lynch are Massachusetts natives. Craig Benson was born in New York City.

Gregg? Kelly Ayotte? Pure-bred Granite Staters from Nashua.

The potential Brown move is far different. It would be Hillary Clinton-esque; she moved to New York specifically to run for the U.S. Senate.

QUALIFICATIONS. Under state law, Brown would have a more difficult time qualifying for a seat in the New Hampshire legislature than the U.S. Senate from here.

A U.S. Senate candidate need only be at least 30 years of age, a registered voter in New Hampshire, and a United States citizen for at least nine years.

A state Senate candidate must be at least 30, a registered voter and "domiciled in New Hampshire for at least seven years," according to the Secretary of State's office.

A state House candidate must be at least 18, a registered voter and "domiciled in New Hampshire for at least two years."

State legislative candidates must live in the districts they are running to represent.

BOTTOM LINE? The fun never stops in the Granite State.

UNDAUNTED. Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire, the conservative issues advocacy group we first publicized here about a month ago, is undaunted.

The group sent out six mail pieces critical of Democrat Bill O'Neil in the recent New Hampshire House special election in Manchester's Ward 2. But O'Neil won.

Regardless, the "Citizens" group is adding staff to continue to try to be a player in upcoming elections.

Kristin Beaulieu is joining as group director. She was the field director for Rick Santorum's presidential campaign in New Hampshire leading to the 2012 first-in-the-nation primary and went on to become Santorum's national director of political operations.

In the general election, she was the New Hampshire events and logistics director for Mitt Romney's campaign.

Brian Szuksta will join the group as a field representative. He was a mobile field representative for the Republican National Committee's "Victory" organization in New Hampshire during the 2012 general election campaign. He also interned for Rich Ashooh's campaign for the 1st District U.S. House seat in 2010 and for John McCain's 2008 presidential campaign in the state.

General consultants for Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire" are Mike Biundo, Kory Wood and Derek Dufresne of RightOn Strategies.

DEMOCRAT FOR STAND-YOUR-GROUND. Last week's announcement by North Country Democratic state Sen. Jeff Woodburn that he will vote against repeal of the stand-your-ground law looks to be significant in the upcoming debate.

Two years ago, the state Senate had a 19-5 Republican majority and even though two Republicans left the pro-stand your ground stable in the initial vote and in the vote to override former Gov. John Lynch's veto, the votes for the bill, and to override, were 17-7.

The record shows that Sen. Bob Odell, R-Lempster, was a consistent vote against stand-your-ground both in the initial Senate vote and in his vote to sustain Lynch's veto.

The record also shows that in the initial, March 2011 vote, Republican Sharon Carson of Hudson opposed stand-your-ground but then voted to override Lynch's veto in September of that year.

It also shows that Republican Sen. Nancy Stiles of Portsmouth voted initially for stand-your-ground but then switched and voted to sustain Lynch's veto.

Now the Senate GOP majority is only 13, with 11 Democrats.

Assuming Odell and either Carson or Stiles vote in favor of repeal of stand-your-ground this year, all the remaining Republicans oppose repeal and all the Democrats except Woodburn favor repeal, the tally would be 12-12, with repeal failing.

If Odell turns out to be the only Republican favoring repeal and Woodburn the only Democrat opposing repeal, the vote can be expected to be 13-11 opposing repeal, and so repeal again would fail.

Either way, it appears repeal of stand-you-ground faces an uphill, at best, battle in the Senate.

Woodburn said he opposes the repeal bill, House Bill 135, because, "The people of the North Country and entire state of New Hampshire have a proud tradition of restraint.

"I trust them to make wise decisions about their own personal safety and the sanctity of human life. I believe that existing law affirming the rights of law-abiding citizens to self-defense are important and I do not support any repeal of those protections.

"There is lots of rhetoric on both sides of this issue," Woodburn said, "but no major problems associated with existing law, no instances of vigilantism, and no increases in crime. Current law simply says that a law-abiding citizen does not need to retreat from criminal aggression if they have a right to be where they are."

THE BIG SHOW. Reserve your tickets now.

Although it's not on the New Hampshire House calendar, yet, we understand that the newly announced joint House Finance and Ways and Means Committees review of Senate Bill 152 will include a hearing on April 18.

John DiStaso is senior political reporter of the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @jdistaso.

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