In New Hampshire, the Massachusetts invasion has been staved off—for now.
Incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has been declared the victor in the closely-fought race against Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator who slid across the border to the state where he keeps a family vacation home, declaring residency and announcing his candidacy in one fell swoop.
Brown had achieved national fame in 2009 when he crisscrossed Massachusetts in his pickup truck, going on to defeat attorney general Martha Coakley in a special election for the Senate seat formerly held by the late Ted Kennedy. That race presaged the Tea Party wave that was to come in 2010. Brown’s victory was short-lived however; in 2012, he was defeated by liberal favorite Elizabeth Warren.
Brown was a favorite of Wall Street and of moderate Republicans cheered by the possibility that a type of Rockefeller Republicanism was returning to the northeast. In the run-up to the midterms, he publicly flirted with running for president, before eventually being lured into the Senate race in neighboring New Hampshire.
It was a long shot to say the least. New Hampshire remains one of the most conservative states in the Northeast, with Republicans regularly competing in the presidential elections, but it is also fiercely independent, and resentful of the encroachment of the Boston suburbs.
Shaheen often played up her local roots. Brown did himself no favors when, in the campaign’s final debate, he seemed to flub a question about basic Granite State geography, calling Sullivan County north of Concord, when it is in fact west of Concord. The Shaheen campaign pounced, spending part of the next day hitting the hustings in Sullivan County.
“The key is that Brown said what he—and probably a lot of other people—think,” wrote a columnist for the Boston Globe. “That ‘anyplace past Concord’ faces the exact same set of issues.”
Brown tried to counter this narrative by focusing on national issues, describing a nation and hence a state that was left insecure and unstable thanks to President Obama’s leadership, and of course, by Shaheen’s support of that leadership. He combined a number of crises facing the president, including the threats of Ebola and ISIS, mismanagement in the Secret Service and child migrants coming over the border, to argue for a change in direction.
Those attacks though fell flat among charges that Brown was an interloper who would vote to limit the reproductive choices of women in the U.S. Senate.
Things took an especially awkward turn for Brown in the race’s final hours, when the former senator was asked by MSNBC host Alex Wagner if he planned to move back to Massachusetts if he lost.
Brown did not answer.