(Updates with Brown quotes starting in second paragraph.)
By Annie Linskey
March 14 (Bloomberg) -- Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown said he’ll form an exploratory committee to run for the U.S. Senate -- this time in neighboring New Hampshire.
Speaking today at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference in Nashua, New Hampshire, he said that as he has traveled the U.S. in the past few months he has heard repeated concerns about the direction of the country.
“I’ll be listening even more closely in these coming weeks as I near a big decision,” he said, according to prepared remarks.
He made frequent references to the botched rollout of President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act. “A big political wave is about to break in America, and the Obamacare Democrats are on the wrong side of it,” Brown said.
Brown, 54, who has been working as a Fox News commentator and counsel at the Boston law firm Nixon Peabody LLC, probably offers Republicans their best shot at ousting Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen because of his national profile and ability to raise money.
“Apart from a self-funding business type with impeccable credentials, Brown probably is the strongest candidate Republicans can get here,” said Jennifer Duffy, a senior editor at the Washington-based Cook Political Report.
Brown lost his bid in Massachusetts for a full six-year Senate term seat in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. He had won the seat in a January 2010 special election that was held after Democrat Edward Kennedy died in August 2009.
A survey of New Hampshire registered voters by Suffolk University in Boston showed Shaheen with 52 percent support and Brown with 39 percent. The poll, conducted from Feb. 27 to March 6, had a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points. Earlier polls, including one by Public Policy Polling, whose clients typically are Democrats, showed the race to be a dead heat.
Republican leaders are counting on a Brown matchup with Shaheen to open up the national map for the party, providing another route to gain the six seats needed for the party to win a Senate majority in November’s elections.
Of the 36 Senate seats on the 2014 ballot, most of those rated as competitive by political analysts -- including Duffy -- are held by Democrats. That has bolstered Republican hopes of taking control of the Senate.
Shaheen, 67, was New Hampshire’s governor from 1997 to 2003 and is the first woman in U.S. history to have both served as a state’s chief executive and in the Senate.
Democratic groups were quick to attack. “Scott Brown’s anti-woman agenda didn’t fly in Massachusetts, and it certainly won’t fly in New Hampshire,” said Marcy Stech, a spokeswoman for Emily’s List, a Washington-based group that supports Democratic women candidates, in a statement that was sent about two hours before Brown’s official announcement.