NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

February 2, 2013

GOP scrambles for Senate candidate

By Michael Norton and Andy Metzger, STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
Newburyport Daily News

---- — BOSTON — Former Sen. Scott Brown will not run for the U.S. Senate seat vacated yesterday by Sen. John Kerry, citing the rigors of a third Senate campaign in four years and the prospect of returning to a bitterly divided Congress.

Without elaborating on his future political or professional plans, Brown also said in a statement that running for Senate was “not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.”

Many Republican Party leaders had seen Brown as their best hope for winning the seat, and Brown’s announcement leaves the party and its new chairwoman, former Brown campaign aide Kirsten Hughes, scrambling for a candidate.

Newbury resident and celebrity psychiatrist Dr. Keith Ablow is among the Republicans who have considered running. Last month, Ablow told The Daily News that he may run if neither Brown nor former Gov. William Weld run. Weld has not announced his intentions. Ablow could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Brown, the son of the late Newburyport City Councilor C. Bruce Brown, was elected to the Senate in a January 2010 special election, defeating Attorney General Martha Coakley. Sen. Elizabeth Warren took office this month after defeating Brown in November’s election.

Congressmen Edward Markey of Malden and Stephen Lynch of South Boston are vying for the Democratic nomination in the special election.

Party candidates must turn in 10,000 signatures to local election officials by Feb. 27.

The primary is scheduled for April 30 with the special election to be held on June 25.

Gov. Deval Patrick this week named his former chief of staff William “Mo” Cowan to serve as interim senator during the campaign and until voters elect a senator in June.

Former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey has been cast about as a possible Senate contender and it’s possible that, as Brown did in 2009, one of the roughly two dozen Republican members of the Legislature could take a shot at the special, which would not require them to forfeit their current jobs.

Richard Tisei, the former state Senate minority leader who unsuccessfully battled U.S. Rep. John Tierney for the 6th Essex Congressional seat this past fall, is considering entering the race. Tisei, a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2010, said in a statement that Brown’s decision not to run a third time for the U.S. Senate “came as a surprise,” but one that will make him consider whether he should get into the developing race.

Tisei said he will take the “coming day” to talk with his family, friends and supporters to “consider the best role that I can play in helping to bring new, alternative leadership to Washington.”

Former Gov. Jane Swift ruled out any possibility of her running, and said she is moving to Vermont.

“I’m very happy at my job,” said Swift, who is CEO of Middlebury Interactive Languages in Vermont, and also lectures at Williams College.

Brown’s exit creates possibilities for lesser-known candidates.

“I think this sort of makes it wide open,” Swift said. “If it was April, close to April 1, I could say I was going to run and do an April Fool’s joke on my husband, but I’m not sure my marriage would survive it.”

Swift said, “I think Bill Weld or Kerry Healey will make very strong candidates. I think Scott would have been the strongest candidate, but I, as someone who’s often struggled with making decisions about balancing work with family, I respect the decision that he made.”

Swift said that Rep. Dan Winslow, R-Norfolk, is “a pretty interesting possibility” and questioned the potential of any of former Gov. Mitt Romney’s sons running.

“They would have some name recognition, and a fundraising operation,” Swift said. “I assume that would only happen if Kerry Healey decided not to run.”

The short election cycle will demand an accelerated schedule from anyone who is getting into the race.

“Nobody predicted that Scott was going to win last time. I think that certainly someone who has personal money, but also the proven ability to raise money will have a huge head start, but I think there are a lot of great themes that a moderate Republican can talk about. The economy’s still not that strong. I think we’re starting to see some of the impact of ObamaCare — the cost of it on our economy,” Swift said.

The following is the full text of Brown’s statement:

“Representing Massachusetts in the United States Senate was the greatest privilege of my life, an experience that takes second place only to my marriage to Gail and the birth of our daughters. It was a higher honor than I had ever expected, and in the time given to me I always tried to make the most of it.

When I was first sent to the Senate in early 2010, it wasn’t exactly welcome news for President Obama or many other Democrats. Yet, among my best memories from those three years in office are visits to the White House to see the President sign into law bills that I had sponsored. I left office last month on the best of terms with colleagues both Republican and Democrat. I had worked well with so many of them, regardless of party, to serve the public interest just as we are all supposed to. All of this was in keeping with the pledge I made at the beginning to do my own thinking and to speak for the independent spirit of our great state.

Over these past few weeks I have given serious thought about the possibility of running again, as events have created another vacancy requiring another special election. I have received a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate, and my competitive instincts were leading in the same direction.

Even so, I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me.

That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the upcoming special election.”