MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) — Former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown is suiting up his campaign armor again — faded blue jeans, cowboy boots and a storied pickup truck —this time in New Hampshire as he tries to make modern history and help the GOP reclaim the Senate.
But a week after Brown joined New Hampshire's Senate race, it's unclear if the every-man appeal that fueled his rise in Massachusetts is enough to revive his political career north of the state line. There are early signs that the state's famously feisty voters may be reluctant to embrace the recent Republican transplant.
"New Hampshire people want New Hampshire people," said Kim Pratt, a 52-year-old self-described independent voter, sitting at the Red Arrow Diner's breakfast counter as Brown shook hands nearby during a weekend visit. "He's not really a New Hampshire person. He's a politician from Massachusetts."
Outside after a breakfast of corned beef hash and eggs, Brown acknowledged the challenge.
"Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I have long and strong ties to this state," he told The Associated Press. "People know." Brown spent the first year and a half of his life living in New Hampshire before his family moved to Massachusetts.
Brown's residency already plays prominently in his quest to defeat Democratic incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen this fall. The stakes are high in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C., where Republicans are competing to gain six seats they need to win the Senate majority and transform the last two years of President Barack Obama's presidency.
Shaheen had been expected to cruise to reelection until Brown stepped into the race this month, giving the GOP a high-profile challenger with national fundraising appeal and a moderate political philosophy expected to play well among local voters.
Brown became a New Hampshire registered voter 13 weeks ago, according to the Rye, N.H., town clerk.
He and his wife moved to their 1,700-square foot seacoast New Hampshire vacation home in late December. The recent move was common knowledge inside the diners he visited over the weekend as part of a "Main Streets and Living Rooms" listening tour he launched about a week ago.
Inside the Red Arrow, Brown claimed a stool at the counter next to Pratt. As he waited for his breakfast, Pratt vowed not to vote for Shaheen. But she also pointedly questioned Brown's devotion to New Hampshire. Behind him, 71-year-old Manchester resident Connie Antoniou whispered, "I wish the Massachusetts people would stay in Massachusetts."
Brown told Pratt that "carpetbagger is a derogatory term" in New Hampshire given that roughly 60 percent of its people were born elsewhere, including the current and former Democratic governors. Gov. Maggie Hassan moved to the state in 1989. Shaheen, who was born in Missouri, has lived in New Hampshire for more than 40 years.
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