By JOHN DiSTASO, News Editor
CONCORD – Scott Brown will formally launch his candidacy for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, April 10, in Portsmouth, and former Gov. John H. Sununu says he’ll be there to introduce him.
The New Hampshire Journal first reported Monday morning that the Republican former Bay State senator will make the announcement Thursday evening at the Sheraton Portsmouth Harborside Hotel, not far from his birthplace at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and in the same city in which spent time as a child and where his mother now lives. Doors will open at 6 p.m.
Sununu, the former governor and White House chief of staff and former chair of the state GOP, confirmed he is supporting Brown and will introduce him, calling Brown “the most viable and appropriate candidate” to try to defeat Shaheen and try to give the GOP control of the Senate.
“The country has terrible problems and the Senate is a big component of fixing those problems,” he said. “The most viable and appropriate candidate to do that now is Scott Brown.”
Brown, in an email to supporters today following the Journal’s initial report, says:
“As I’ve traveled across the state and added miles on my truck, I’ve heard the same concerns at every stop. You’ve told me you want a stronger economy with more good-paying jobs. You want a government that doesn’t spend more than it takes in. Most of all, you want a health care system that works for New Hampshire – not one that leaves you with higher premiums, cancelled policies and fewer medical options.”
Brown writes that Portsmouth “ played a special role in my childhood. I remember our house on Islington Street, strolling through Strawbery Banke with my grandfather, and catching a show at Prescott Park. Now, Portsmouth is going to be the start of the next chapter in my life.”
Since he began considering running for the Senate seat held by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, Brown has been stressing his ties to the Granite State, while Shaheen and fellow Democrats have been focusing on his many years in Massachusetts, where he and his wife, Gail Huff, raised two daughters and where he won election to the Senate in 2010 before losing to Sen. Elizabeth Warren in 2012.
Sununu said he has had “long talks” with Brown and is “extremely comfortable with his commitment to the state. He has come back to the state where he was almost born – we know the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard should be in New Hampshire — and he has reestablished his roots here.
“He is working hard and is committed to being a good, New Hampshire type of candidate and I think the launch of his campaign was typical of how to do things as a candidate in New Hampshire,” Sununu said, calling Brown “the key to getting rid of Obamacare.”
Sununu called the Shaheen’s focus on the “People’s Pledge” to limit outside spending “a diversionary tactic” because she is “nervous about the real issue of Obamacare. She may try to convince voters that Obamacare doesn’t exist as an issue, but it is the issue.”
“She has lost touch with New Hampshire,” Sununu said of Shaheen, who six years ago defeated his son, John E. Sununu, in the race that brought the former governor to the Senate.
A top Democrat, learning of Sununu’s support for Brown, told the Journal, “I have a hard time imagining anyone who is viewed less favorably in the state when it comes to swing voters” than Sununu.
“He spent the past couple of years as the most rabid attack dog on cable television” on behalf of Mitt Romney. “For Scott Brown to ask him to introduce him shows how out of touch he is with independent New Hampshire voters.
“Are Sarah Palin and Donald Trump busy that day?” the Democrat asked.
Besides the “carpetbagger” accusation, Democrats have also tied Brown to the Koch brothers, co-founders of the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity, which along with the Karl Rove-backed American Crossroads have spent about $1.5 million in the state on television ads targeting Shaheen over her support for the Affordable Care Act.
As the New Hampshire Journal reported first Sunday, the conservative advocacy group Ending Spending is up today with a new pro-Brown ad – an ad that does not mention Shaheen.
Democratic groups have spent about one-fifth that amount focusing on Brown both on the “carpetbagger” issue and his alleged support for the oil industry.
Brown has also declined to sign the same “People’s Pledge” to limit third party spending that he originated in his 2012 Massachusetts race, when he lost to Warren, prompting more criticism from Shaheen and the Democrats. He has said, “The only pledge I’m taking is a pledge to get rid of Obamacare.”
The state Democratic Party says Brown and “third party special interest groups (are) trying to buy New Hampshire’s Senate seat.” The party contends Brown has a clear record of “protecting ‘Big Oil’ tax breaks and Wall Street special interests.”
Brown and the state GOP have repeatedly criticized the ACA and Shaheen’s support not only for that law – continually labeling her the “deciding vote” — but also for President Barack Obama’s overall agenda.
Brown has been making stops throughout the state since he announced an exploratory committee on March 14. At that time, he became an official candidate, according to paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission.
He disclosed that he is running last week and Thursday’s announcement is the formal launch. He will be surrounded by his family, friends and supporters at the Portsmouth event.
The Brown announcement comes after he signed Colin Reed to be his campaign manager.
Reed, 29, was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s deputy communications director and previously was the communication director on Brown’s 2012 campaign. Earlier he was in Brown’s senate office in Washington.
Reed was deputy press secretary to the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 2009 to 2010 and worked on Sen. John McCain’s presidential campaign from 2007 to 2008. He also worked as an intern in the Massachusetts governor’s office under Mitt Romney in 2006.
Reed was among 18 Christie staffers served with subpoenas in January by a legislative committee investigating the “Bridge-gate” George Washington Bridge traffic jam-political retribution scandal.
But he has not been as deeply tied to the scandal as other officials. State GOP executive director Matt Mowers, who had been a regional liasion for the Christie administration before coming to the Granite State, has also been served with a subpoena.
“It’s going to be an exciting race,” Reed said in an interview . “Senator Brown hit the ground running during his recent ‘Main Streets and Living Rooms’ tour and has now been to all 10 counties.
“The plan is to continue to criss-cross the state and listen to people and their concerns, and discuss how we are going to move the country forward.”
Brown’s Massachusetts ties “ is not an issue when he’s traveling the state,” Reed said. “People are talking about not where he’s from but where we are going a s a nation. People care about jobs, the debt, health care and America’s standing in the world.
“Senator Shaheen has voted 99 percent of the time with President Obama, cast the tie breaking vote for Obamacare, and people are upset and frustrated and angry that she has been part of the problem,” Reed said.