Former Senator Scott Brown transitioned from potential comeback politician to pundit in just two weeks, making his debut as a contributor to Fox News on Wednesday night in an appearance also billed as an “exclusive” by host Sean Hannity.
Fans and skeptics alike saw the move as a plush landing pad for the Republican, a telegenic former model who used his regular-guy appeal to great effect in his campaign for US Senate and whose upset win in 2010 was championed and chronicled on Fox.
Brown lost reelection to Democrat Elizabeth Warren in November, but was expected to make another special election run after Senator John F. Kerry stepped down last month to become secretary of state. Two weeks ago, Brown stunned the political establishment by announcing he would not run, and last week Fox revealed he was in negotiations to become a contributor.
Wearing a suit with an American flag on his lapel, Brown started off his appearance on the “Hannity” show smiling uncertainly, but he soon hit his stride with campaign-style talking points.
Asked by Hannity why he did not run again for “Kerry’s seat,” Brown said, “Well, it is the people’s seat as you remember,” echoing the phrase he coined in the 2010 election to replace the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Brown also told Hannity that the pace of special elections would have put him in five campaigns in six years and that he might have had to raise another $30 to $50 million, only to “participate in a Congress that’s really dysfunctional and extremely partisan.” Instead, he said, “I felt I could make a difference being on this show and doing other things.”
Many Republicans hope Brown will return to run for governor in 2014, and he told Hannity he would remain involved in elections at home and across the country. But some saw his appearance as a signal that he is taking a long hiatus from Massachusetts politics.
“It’s hard not to take it as an indication he’s unlikely to run for governor,” said Republican political consultant Rob Gray. “A regular gig on Fox likely turns off many moderate voters in Massachusetts. Cable TV ratings tend to revolve around controversial stands and conflict, so it’s hard to imagine he won’t get sucked into some issues that wouldn’t help him in any Massachusetts run in the near future.”
Neither Brown nor Fox spokesmen returned calls to discuss the terms of his contract, how much he is being paid, and how regularly he will appear on the network. In a statement issued by Fox, the network said he will offer political commentary on various programs during the day and in prime time.
His addition to the lineup seemed to portend change at the conservative network.
Fox recently ended contracts with conservative firebrands including Sarah Palin, the 2008 vice-presidential nominee, and Dick Morris, the former political adviser who insisted throughout the recent presidential campaign that Republican Mitt Romney was going to win in a landslide.
In addition to Brown, who campaigned in his race against Elizabeth Warren as an independent-minded Republican, Fox also brought on as a commentator the liberal former congressman and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich.
Brown sounded a few notes of compromise on Hannity in reacting to President Obama’s State of the Union address. Though he criticized the president’s spending proposals and the scope of the national deficit, he spoke of possible agreement on immigration. “There are things that we can work on but the key is to do it together,” Brown said.
“Welcome to the family,” Hannity told Brown after his brief appearance.