So maybe it was a joke at first, but it may be Scott Brown who gets the last laugh in New Hampshire.
The former GOP senator from Massachusetts swept into office during a special election in 2010 by riding the tea party's anti-government wave, spurred in part by debate on President Barack Obama's health care reform initiative. But the former male model lost handily to Elizabeth Warren, a progressive Democrat, in the 2012 general election and escaped to the private sector to recover.
Now, Brown is making the rounds in the Granite State, showing up at local Republican Party events and fundraising. And as sights turn to the 2014 midterm elections, Brown is being eyed as a potential opponent to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat up for re-election.
"Right now the only person who knows what Scott Brown is going to do is Scott Brown," says a top Republican national campaign consultant who has ties in New Hampshire and keeps in touch with Brown.
"I think his chances of running right now are 50-50 at this point; that's an improvement over the chances in September but I think he still wants to look at some polling," he adds. "Shaheen is definitely struggling with the Obamacare issue, but the question is how much."
The consultant describes Brown as an "independent-minded, fiscal conservative" and says he is a better fit for New Hampshire than for the state's more liberal southern neighbor, Massachusetts.
"It started as somewhat of a lark, but it's become very serious given the need for a candidate in New Hampshire," he says. "There's no question that he'd be a strong candidate – he has the ability to raise money, he's got star power, he's got universal name ID already in the state. It would become a major race if he gets in it; if he doesn't, [Shaheen] kind of gets a free pass."
Democrats are already needling Brown's potential entrance into the race, with a liberal political action committee, American Bridge 21st Century, airing online jabs about his Massachusetts license plate.
Another factor perhaps playing into Brown's political flirtation: New Hampshire's outsized role in the presidential primary process.