Scott Brown decides to steer clear of Massachusetts U.S. Senate race

Scott Brown announced Friday that he won't vie for a political comeback this year in the special Massachusetts U.S. Senate race, dashing Republican hopes of having the well-known former senator on the ticket.

After a stunning 2010 special election victory that brought him to Congress, Brown was defeated last November by Democrat Elizabeth Warren in one of the most closely watched Senate races in the country.

Brown noted in a statement that he has received "a lot of encouragement from friends and supporters to become a candidate" for the seat Democratic Sen. John Kerry vacated to begin his service as secretary of state. But that and his "competitive instincts" weren't enough, Brown said:

Even so, 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. And I know it’s not the only way for me to advance the ideals and causes that matter most to me. That is why I am announcing today that I will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the upcoming special election.

Democratic Rep. Stephen Lynch, who announced his candidacy Thursday for the seat, said in a statement that Brown's decision was not unexpected.

"I understand Scott Brown’s decision," said Lynch. "He has basically been campaigning non-stop for three years. It’s perfectly understandable that he wouldn’t want to undertake another campaign. I wish all the best to Scott and his family.”

Lynch and colleague Rep. Ed Markey have already announced their intentions to seek the Democratic nomination.

Following Brown's decision, it remains unclear who is most likely to top the Republican field.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which steers Republican Senate campaigns, made clear in a statement Friday it had been hopeful about a Brown candidacy.

"This was no doubt a tough personal decision for Senator Brown and his family, who understandably need to recharge after several long, hard-fought campaigns. Now that he has made a decision, it’s time to move forward," Rob Collins, the NRSC's executive director, said in a statement.

Collins then suggested that Democrats have their own share of difficulties on their hands.

"As the Democratic primary between Reps. Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch turns uglier and nastier each day, the Massachusetts special election provides a real pick-up opportunity for Republicans, and we intend on defeating whichever career politician limps through," Collins said.

The special primary is scheduled for April 30 and the special general election June 25.