DERRY, N.H. — Andrew Palmer agrees with former US senator Scott Brown on many things. They both want lower taxes and smaller government. They both favor abortion rights and support same-sex marriage.
But there is one thing that Palmer, a short-order cook in this New Hampshire town just up Interstate 93 from Massachusetts, cannot abide: the idea that Brown might run for Senate in the Granite State.
“I don’t want an outsider up here,” Palmer said Friday at the gleaming counter of Mary Ann’s Diner on East Broadway. It does not matter that he prefers Brown’s positions to the Democratic incumbent’s. “I’d still vote against him.”
It was a refrain commonly heard in the town that calls itself “New Hampshire’s Place to Be,” a day after Brown refused to rule out running in 2014 for the seat currently occupied by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen.
Voters and political pundits said Brown, who resides in Wrentham, Mass., came off as something of a political carpetbagger, whose moderate brand of Republicanism would work well in New Hampshire -- if he were considered a local.
“That’s going to be the biggest hurdle he has,” said Andrew E. Smith, associate professor of political science and director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. “What makes you think you have to move up there to run? Can’t we get our own candidates?”
Brown, who lost his reelection bid in Massachusetts in November to Senator Elizabeth Warren, noted that he owns a home in New Hampshire, has “been a taxpayer” there for 20 years, and has relatives who live in the state.
That was not enough for Tracy Hahn-Burkett, 46, a writer who lives in Bow.
“I don’t think people will buy the idea that somebody coming from outside the state is just going to waltz in here and put one over on us,” she said. “People really take the ‘live free or die’ thing above everything else.”
Hahn-Burkett usually votes Democrat. Bruce Juchniewicz, 63, considers himself an independent. As he stood by his Harley-Davidson on East Broadway, Juchniewicz expressed admiration for Brown.
“He seemed like a down-to-earth guy; he likes to be independent,” Juchniewicz said. “Is he going to live up here?”
Some observers cautioned yesterday against taking Brown’s statement too seriously.
“I consider it harmless political fun,” said Fergus Cullen, a former New Hampshire state Republican party chairman. Cullen also suggested that, should Brown throw his hat in the ring, the carpetbagger problem will not hurt him that much if his ideas resonate with voters. Some voters agreed.
“New Hampshire would be open to that,” said Tammie Lampes, 48, who served root beer floats at Sundae Delite on East Broadway.
Andy Day, 34, owner of the Cask and Vine restaurant, would have no problem with Brown’s candidacy because he sees eye to eye with the former senator on issues.
“I think it would be fantastic,” said Day, who usually votes Republican. “As long as it’s genuine and you’re not trying to be something you’re not.”
Brown’s everyman persona propelled him to victory in a special election in 2010 to fill the seat of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, and on Thursday, he got to reprise one of his most memorable lines from that race. Asked whether he would consider running for “Shaheen’s seat,” Brown said, again, “It’s the people’s seat.”
But one of Brown’s problems leading up to his Senate defeat last November was articulating what he stood for in a race when he tried to appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. Warren was able to make the argument that he would fall in with the conservative right.
Brown shattered the hopes of the Republican faithful in Massachusetts when he passed on the special election this year to fill the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John F. Kerry.
No Republicans from New Hampshire have declared themselves for the 2014 race, Cullen said. That may be one reason for the muted reaction in the state Republican party when Brown made his statement after an appearance in Nashua.
Jennifer Horn, chairwoman of the state party, said in an e-mail Thursday that “voters would listen to what he has to say and give him an honest chance.”
If anything, said Dante Scala, associate professor of political science at the University of New Hampshire, Brown’s words spurred Democrats, who began a fund-raising campaign to stop him.
“The implication for Republicans is that they don’t have their act together; they have to import somebody from out of state,” Scala said. “It doesn’t put the New Hampshire Republican Party in a good light.”David Filipov can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davidfilipov. Stephanie Ebbert can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @StephanieEbbert.