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Adrian Walker

Scott Brown running for the spotlight

You will never miss Scott Brown, because our onetime, short-time US senator is clearly never going away.

This weekend, news came that he was making appearances in Iowa, the scene of the important first presidential caucus. Brown told a Des Moines television station that he just might be ready to bring “his brand of politics” into the 2016 presidential election.

Yes, Scott Brown is pondering yet another run for yet another office. You remember Brown. The state senator from Wrentham beat Martha Coakley in the special election in 2010 to succeed Ted Kennedy, to the shock of Massachusetts Democrats. Instantly, he became the subject of adoring magazine and television profiles. The national Republican Party drooled over him. “60 Minutes” drooled over him. Book publishers fought over who could write the biggest advance check for his memoirs. A brand was born.


By all appearances, Brown liked Washington, and for a while Washington liked him. He actually achieved the occasional modest bipartisan victory. For about a year, he lived a life straight out of Hollywood.

But his good fortune couldn’t last, and it didn’t. Arguably, national Republicans were the first to bail on him, when people like Sarah Palin began questioning his conservative credentials. Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, he came to be considered too conservative. Voter love was replaced by growing indifference, and the star began to fade.

After getting trounced by first-time candidate Elizabeth Warren last November, Brown took not one but two jobs, working as an analyst for Fox News, and as a lawyer/rainmaker for Nixon Peabody, a big downtown law firm.

I don’t want to make light of Brown’s presidential prospects. It’s just hard to believe that he has any presidential prospects. For starters, he lost his last election by a substantial margin, something unusual for a sitting senator.

And his so-called brand of politics is far out of step with the leadership of his own party. There’s not much reason to believe the GOP wants a nominee whose main qualification is that he can draw support from Massachusetts moderates. Why would a party that got trounced with Mitt Romney in 2012 turn around and nominate Scott Brown?


One could argue that Brown is more a professional water-tester than a candidate. In less than a year, he has flirted with running for the other senate seat from Massachusetts, running for the Senate in New Hampshire, running for governor of Massachusetts, and, now, running for president. The man floats rumors and starts speculation the way toddlers throw tantrums. And we, the public and the media, enable it. Because, one day, he’s bound to run for something, or so people assume.

To be fair, Brown is a talented politician. His victory against Coakley was never the fluke it was made out to be. He tapped into a well of resentment about Democratic entitlement, and caught the deep ambivalence voters were then beginning to feel about health care reform. He understood that many voters didn’t consider it blasphemy to replace Kennedy with a Republican. He didn’t just get lucky.

But his time in the spotlight didn’t necessarily serve him well. It seems to have turned him into a person with a strong need to see his face on television.

Once, Scott Brown was just a little-known member of the Massachusetts Legislature, a man who came to work and cast his votes. Then he saw the bright lights and nothing has been the same since. The quest for attention has become his never-ending campaign.


Adrian Walker is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @Adrian_Walker.