Scott Brown under consideration for ambassador to New Zealand
Former US senator Scott Brown is being considered for nomination as President Trump’s ambassador to New Zealand, according to four people familiar with the process.
Brown, who was previously considered for the veterans affairs Cabinet post, has told associates that he believes he will get the nod for Wellington, one of the people familiar with the discussions told the Globe.
The White House declined to comment Friday, and Brown did not respond to several requests for comment.
The people who spoke to the Globe cautioned that in these still-early days of the Trump administration, decisions remain fluid and Brown could also be tapped for another position.
They noted that Brown would first have to undergo extensive vetting and earn Senate confirmation, a process that could take months. All four people, however, pointed to New Zealand as the likeliest destination for Brown, who has sought to maintain his profile in the years since leaving the Senate.
After losing the 2012 Massachusetts Senate race to Democrat Elizabeth Warren, Brown moved to New Hampshire and unsuccessfully challenged Democratic US Senator Jeanne Shaheen two years later.
During the presidential primary, Brown threw “no-BS backyard barbecues” for GOP contenders, fashioning for himself a role as something of a power broker. He hosted Trump at a Financial District fund-raiser in June, after Trump had all but secured the nomination.
Brown endorsed Trump at a pivotal juncture in the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, after Trump had lost the Iowa caucuses to Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and just before the New Hampshire primary.
“I think Scott Brown would be a terrific selection as a diplomat on behalf of the United States. He’s got terrific interpersonal skills, great instincts, highly regarded, well thought of,” said Michael Sullivan, a former US attorney in Massachusetts.
Sullivan said he had not heard that Brown was in line for the New Zealand posting, but added, “He’s got terrific talent, great experiences, and certainly was an early supporter of President Trump. So I would not be surprised at all.”
Like Cabinet members, ambassadors require Senate confirmation.
Their candidacies are reviewed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, meaning that Brown, if nominated, could field questions during his appearance before the panel from Shaheen, his rival in the 2014 New Hampshire Senate race. Democratic Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts is also a member of the committee.
In November, discussing his prospects for the Department of Veterans Affairs post, Brown, who served 35 years in the Army National Guard, said he had heard from many former Senate colleagues and was hopeful that, if nominated, he would “get unanimous approval.”
At the time, Brown told the Globe that Trump had called him on his cellphone and asked how Brown thought he could help.
Brown pointed to housing and veterans’ issues, and informed Trump that his true passion was military service.
The former Massachusetts state senator rocketed to national renown in 2010 when he stunned political handicappers, and the Obama White House, by beating Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special US Senate election to fill the seat left vacant when Edward M. Kennedy died. Kennedy had held the seat for 47 years, and it had been considered safely Democratic.
Brown’s upset win, amid the backdrop of the debate in Washington over the federal health care law, put him in the national spotlight, dimmed only when Warren defeated him in 2012. He moved to New Hampshire and tried unsuccessfully to replace Shaheen.
It was unclear what Brown’s specific link to New Zealand might be. The island nation has historically been a US ally, sharing membership in the “Five Eyes,” an intelligence collaboration that also includes Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
If confirmed, Brown would join the late governor Paul Cellucci as a former statewide GOP official who joined the senior ranks of the diplomatic corps. Cellucci was ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush.
Former governor William Weld was nominated to serve as President Clinton’s ambassador to Mexico, but his candidacy was scuttled by conservative Senate Republicans.
Former Boston mayor Raymond L. Flynn served as the top diplomat to the Vatican, and former representative Brian Donnelly as ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, both under Clinton. Alan Solomont, a longtime major Democratic fund-raiser, served as ambassador to Spain and Andorra under President Obama.
In a 2015 interview with GQ about his passion for cycling, Brown said, “I’ve always wanted to go to New Zealand or Scotland or Wales and just ride 100 miles, hit a pub, drink, eat, sleep, do some exploring, and then get up, ride another 100 miles, do that for a couple weeks.”