Scott Brown’s 15 Minutes?

Scott Brown’s brief tenure in the US Senate was a real Cinderella story. When the clock struck 2012 his pick up truck turned back into…well…a pickup truck and his time at the big dance came to end. But as we all know, Cinderella’s story didn’t end there and many think that Brown’s won’t either.

The possibility that another vacancy in the Senate will be created by a Kerry appointment to the president’s cabinet has Brown supporters buzzing about a chance for their “regular guy from Wrenthem” to return to the limelight. Still others are saying that Brown should run for governor in 2012. If Brown does get another opportunity to run for the senate in a “special” election to fill Kerry’s seat, winning would mean that he would have to run again one year later for the full six year term, which would be his fourth senate campaign in four years.

A run for the Bay State’s corner office would be cleaner and less demanding overall, but Brown’s particular profile is not particularly strong for a gubernatorial candidate. Massachusetts voters are ticket splitters in gubernatorial races, but the logic of electing Republican governors has always been about putting a conservative businessman in place to check the excesses of a Democratic state legislator. Brown has no meaningful executive experience at all, either public or private. In a run for governor Brown would be relying entirely on his popularity and high job approval ratings as our temporary US Senator, which may look good right now but will be considerably less potent in 2014, unless Brown finds a way to bolster both his popularity and credibility as a candidate for statewide executive office over the next year and a half.

We’re I advising Brown on how to get back into high elective office, I would recommend he try to leverage the popularity and good will he has earned by positioning himself to run for state Attorney General in 2014. His prospects for AG are much better than they are for either the Senate or the governorship and if victorious he would have four years to develop into a very serious gubernatorial candidate. This would also put him in a better position to help the Mass GOP, something neither he nor any of the recent Republican governors have done.

If Scott Brown decides to make his party’s future in Massachusetts part of his own cause, I believe he could become a very important figure in Massachusetts politics. On the other hand, if he merely wants to get back in the game while his popularity is high, I expect he’ll go down again and fade away.

About Jerold Duquette

Jerold Duquette is an associate professor of political science at Central Connecticut State University. He is the author of Regulating the National Pastime: Baseball and Antitrust and has published articles and book chapters on campaign finance reform, political parties, Massachusetts politics and political culture, public opinion, and political socialization. Professor Duquette lives in Longmeadow, MA with his wife and four children.
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