The Democratic Party is almost certain to lose at least a handful of US Senate seats in the 2014 elections. Potentially, they could lose the chamber altogether if current polling plays out. The Senate race in New Hampshire may not have started out in the top 10 of races to watch – that’s how rich this election is in story-lines – but if Scott Brown enters, it certainly will be.
Brown may or may not beat Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen, but one thing is certain: he would require far more resources to defeat than probably any other challenger. With Democrats already needing to defend over a dozen competitive seats, this is not one they want to see land into the top tier. According to Open Secrets, a website with in-depth financial election data, the Democrats and affiliated committees have roughly $100M in cash-on-hand for the 2014 elections, but $40M in debts. The GOP is running a nearly debt-free operation (under $2M owed) with a healthy $90M+ cash-on-hand.
With Democrats already trailing in the polls with 7 Democratic seats, the last thing they want is to have to drop millions of dollars into New Hampshire. This is what Brown would make them do. Brown has already proven he can win in a much tougher state, and he could once again run on Obamacare, the issue that carried him to victory in 2010 but had inexcusably fallen from the hot topics list by 2012. (Well, it’s back.) This also helps the GOP. If Brown gets the nomination he will have no problem raising the cash needed to be competitive. He has built-in name recognition that the other Republicans lack. Both of these factors would enable the party to focus on other races rather than worrying about how to fund and build around an unknown candidate. No, Scott Brown is not the ideal conservative. He’s not nearly as conservative as Kelly Ayotte, the state’s other US Senator. But he is a solid vote against Obamacare and he would make the race an instant toss-up. The best case for Scott Brown may be that he causes the Democrats a whole lot of problems (both in the state and nationally) than they otherwise might have. In 2010, the Democrats put everything they had into defending Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s seat in Nevada. They were stretched thin in an unfavorable landscape. 2014 is a similar landscape, and the tougher the landscape, the better for the GOP.
Now the only question that remains: Does Brown even want to run?