Politicians can spend their entire careers shopping around for a new office into which they can throw their considerable energy and ego. There is nothing new or particularly newsworthy about this.
But Scott Brown has really taken the practice to a rather strange level.
Since losing to Elizabeth Warren in November, 2012, Brown has been publicly identified with four different offices.
First, he gave “serious thought” to running for John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat before ultimately opting out.
Second, he has publicly flirted with running for the Senate from New Hampshire against Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.
Third, he hinted that he just might challenge Charlie Baker for the Republican gubernatorial nomination in 2014.
Fourth, he very publicly landed at the Iowa State Fair to test the waters for a possible presidential bid.
And all of this since the end of January. It would seem to be a rather aimless strategy, throwing around all manner of possibilities to see what might stick. Unless of course the strategy is just to continue to court lots of attention.
Assuming he is interested in a return to office, statements that indicate a desire to pursue four of them, in two different states and nationally, does very little to connect Brown to the issues that will motivate his fellow partisans to nominate him for any of them.
Touring the states on the presidential nomination circuit keeps him from talking about the recently enacted Massachusetts technology tax. Touring Massachusetts keeps him out of Iowa and New Hampshire. Talking about state based issues keeps him talking about national ones. And on it goes.
As Brown’s list of possible pursuits gets longer, voters will come to realize he is not taking any one pursuit seriously and, consequently, they don’t seriously see him in any additional office.
Rather he’s more likely to be viewed as a political journeyman, a sometimes dabbler who doesn’t quite know what his next step will be so he’s always on the cusp of something.
Contrast this with Charlie Baker. The 2010 Republican nominee for Governor gave the incumbent a tough race and has been almost singularly identified with another race for the Corner Office. No one doubts where Baker will put his time and energy.
But Brown sows nothing but doubt. Should he continue on this electorally erratic course, voters will doubt that Brown deserves any other title beyond Former Senator.