President Trump's pick to be ambassador to New Zealand was confirmed Thursday in a broad show of support by the Senate for a former colleague.
Scott Brown, who briefly succeeded Ted Kennedy as a Republican senator from Massachusetts before being defeated by Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren, was easily confirmed Thursday afternoon. That reflects more than the usual collegiality, as Brown was also backed by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, the New Hampshire Democrat he challenged in 2014 in an attempt to make a Senate comeback.
"It means a tremendous amount to me and my family," Brown said of his support from Shaheen, Warren, and the other Democrats from Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Brown, who will serve concurrently as ambassador to the independent state of Samoa, said he wanted to be Trump's envoy to New Zealand in order to work on security issues pertaining to China and North Korea. New Zealand is a member of the Five Eyes, an international intelligence-sharing network that also includes the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada.
"It was my choice," Brown said during his Senate Foreign Relations Confirmation hearing. "I wanted to go to an area that quite frankly plays an integral and key role in the Pacific region, a real leader, an independent thoughtful leader in New Zealand when it comes to addressing that region's very serious needs and concerns, especially with regard to China and its expansionism changing the law of the sea and the law of the air — building islands and militarizing them that really just change international law as we've all known them."
Brown's 2014 Senate run proved to be a springboard for his diplomatic post. When he challenged Shaheen, he organized his campaign around border security and national security issues.
"There is a rational fear from citizens in New Hampshire and throughout this country that people are coming — either criminal elements, terrorist elements, or people with diseases — coming through our border," Brown said during the campaign.
He was unable to overcome Shaheen's counterargument that the former Massachusetts senator ought not to represent New Hampshire, but his near-victory foreshadowed Trump's political strength in the state two years later. Brown went on to endorse Trump a week before the New Hampshire Republican presidential primary.