Scott Brown looks to stay in spotlight as he plots next move

Story highlights

  • Most sidelined politicians write books, do talk show rounds or become a pundit
  • Former Sen. Scott Brown has been showing up to jam with likes of Cheap Trick
  • Brown moved from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, where he's considering a Senate run

Scott Brown knows how to stay in the spotlight.

And for a politician who's sitting on the sidelines, possibly waiting to make his next move, staying in the spotlight is smart politics.

Some out-of-office politicians write books, some host cable TV or radio talk shows or serve as pundits. Brown's following a different playbook.

The former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, who recently moved to New Hampshire and is considering a GOP challenge this year to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, is once again in the headlines.

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Brown jammed on stage this past weekend at a concert in Lynn, Massachusetts, with longtime rock group Cheap Trick, joining the band in playing "Surrender," one of its biggest hits from the 1970s.

"Hope you all enjoy this as much as I did," he said in a Facebook post, which links to the YouTube video of Brown singing and playing guitar.

The story played across New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and grabbed some national coverage as well.

    This was the second high-profile jam session for Brown, who started to play guitar about year ago.

    In December, he rocked with his daughter, Ayla, of "American Idol" fame, and Mike Huckabee on the former Arkansas governor and 2008 GOP presidential candidate's Fox News Channel program.

    A few weeks ago, Brown made the front page of the "Union Leader," New Hampshire's largest newspaper, as he stripped down to his bathing suit for the annual Penguin plunge at Hampton Beach. The event raises money for the Special Olympics.

    Brown famously stripped down years before, as a Cosmopolitan centerfold during his years as a law school student.

    From the State House to Capitol Hill

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    In January 2010, the little-known Republican state senator in Massachusetts pulled an upset in a special election to serve the final three years of the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy's term.

    Brown lost his 2012 re-election bid to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren.

    Since leaving Capitol Hill, Brown took an on-air contributor gig at Fox News, served as a colonel in the Army National Guard's office at the Pentagon, and is an attorney at the global law firm of Nixon Peabody, which has offices in Boston.

    Last year, he passed on running in a special election in Massachusetts to fill the term of John Kerry, who left the Senate to become secretary of state.

    And at the time, Brown also announced that he wouldn't make a 2014 bid for an open governor's seat in the Bay State.

    Brown last year made a number of speaking appearances at GOP events in the Granite State. And last fall, in another hint about a possible run for the Senate in New Hampshire, Brown dropped the 'MA' from his Twitter handle.

    A few months later, he sold his home in the Bay State and moved his residency north to New Hampshire.

    A brand name

    Brown's well known in New England, which gives him many advantages.

    "He can be an undeclared candidate and make news. He doesn't need to build his name ID," a Republican strategist who's been in contact with Brown told CNN.

    "That gives him the luxury to wait longer than a new and unknown candidate. He already has a brand name and has the ability to raise resources to launch a campaign," the strategist said.

    Brian Walsh, a GOP strategist and communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee the past two election cycles, said Brown's cementing his image as a regular guy.

    "The main reasons candidates announce early is to raise money, boost name ID and to have an edge in their party's primary. But Scott Brown already enjoys the unique position where those aren't necessarily major factors if he decides to run in a state with a late September primary and where he's already well-known and well-liked among many New Hampshire voters," Walsh said.

    Brown's strong name ID is definitely a plus, but it also may be a minus. After a couple of outside conservative groups ran TV commercials in support of Brown, Shaheen started fundraising off the threat of a Brown entry into the race.

    And some outside pro-Democratic groups targeted Brown, including the Senate Majority PAC, which went up with attack ads, charging that he's a favorite of the Wall Street crowd.

    Will Brown run?

    The strategist in contact with Brown, who asked to remain anonymous to speak freely, says Brown's looking to make a decision about a Senate bid in the next few weeks.

    "I think he understands the opportunity in 2014 to win, but he's facing a number of family concerns that are weighing on this decision. I think he is genuinely conflicted and he first needs to figure out if he has the ability to run a political campaign given the family concerns. Among those concerns is his mother's in declining health. Plus, he's helping to plan two weddings right now, as both of his daughters are getting married this summer," the source said.

    Some New Hampshire Republicans who at first didn't take Brown's flirtations seriously have changed their minds.

    "I've gone from a skeptic to a convert on the possibility of a Brown candidacy. He appears to be considering this race very seriously, which clearly makes Sen. Shaheen and her team nervous. His favorable poll numbers plus the activist encouragement he is receiving only helps," GOP strategist Jim Merrill told CNN.

    "Either way, voters hope he decides soon as they're anxious for the primary field to be set, with other GOP candidates out there working hard," added Merrill, who was a senior adviser for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign.

    As Brown continues to mull his options, CNN has confirmed he will speak next month at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference, a high-profile event in New Hampshire. This latest move keeps Brown in the spotlight, and sparks more speculation he'll run for Senate.

    As Brown continues to mull his options, CNN confirmed on Tuesday that he will speak next month at the Northeast Republican Leadership Conference, a high profile event in New Hampshire. This latest move by Brown keeps him in the spotlight, and sparks more speculation that he'll run for the Senate.

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