BOSTON (AP) — Former Sen. Scott Brown said Friday he would not run in a special Senate election in Massachusetts, dealing a setback to Republican hopes of winning the seat being vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.
Brown, who electrified his party with an upset win in a 2010 special election but lost his re-election bid in November, ended weeks of intense speculation about his future with a written statement announcing his decision.
"I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time," he said. "And I know it's not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me."
GOP officials in Washington and Massachusetts widely considered Brown the strongest possible Republican candidate in a state that traditionally favors Democrats.
With Brown out of the running, potential Republican candidates include former Gov. William Weld, former Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, state Rep. Daniel Winslow and former state Sen. Richard Tisei.
Brown won the special election for longtime Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat following his death, but lost a bruising re-election battle last year to Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Republican remained popular among Massachusetts voters, still had a statewide political organization and demonstrated an ability to raise tens of millions in campaign donations.
Democrats already have two congressmen in the race to replace Kerry, who resigned his seat and was sworn in Friday as secretary of state: U.S. Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch will face off in an April 30 primary.
Brown said his instinct was to run: "Over these past few weeks I have given serious thought about the possibility of running again, as events have created another vacancy requiring another special election," he said. "I have received a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate, and my competitive instincts were leading in the same direction."
Party leaders remained optimistic that they could still win the special election.
Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester said he was disappointed Brown would not be running for Congress, but said he respected Brown's decision.
"Massachusetts Republicans have the opportunity to choose from many viable candidates that can make a real difference in the United States Senate. That process needs to begin immediately," Tarr said in a statement.