By Ted Siefer
MANCHESTER N.H. (Reuters) - Democrat Jeanne Shaheen won re-election to the U.S. Senate from New Hampshire, ABC and NBC projected on Tuesday, with the incumbent beating back an aggressive campaign from Republican Scott Brown and helping Democratic efforts to keep their Senate majority.
Brown was a little-known Massachusetts state legislator before he burst onto the national stage in 2010 when he won the U.S. Senate seat that liberal Democratic champion Edward Kennedy had held for half a century. Brown lost his 2012 re-election bid and moved north late last year to New Hampshire, where he grew up, with an eye on Shaheen's seat.
Shaheen's campaign had focused on Brown's recent return to the state, saying New Hampshire should not be viewed as a "consolation prize". Brown worked to tie Shaheen closely to President Barack Obama, who is unpopular in New Hampshire.
Shaheen's long history in New Hampshire, where she previously served as governor, likely helped her campaign, said Peter Ubertaccio, chairman of the political science department at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts.
"She is not a polarizing figure and they were not willing to throw her out," Ubertaccio said. "The quickness with which (Brown) left Massachusetts, set up shop in New Hampshire and then decided to run, even though he has a history here, worked against him. New Hampshire voters like to get to know their politicians."
Brown, 55, and Shaheen, 67, staged campaign blitzes over the past few days, with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stumping for Shaheen over the weekend.
Both parties saw the seat as critical to taking a majority in the Senate. But the big names in both parties have an extra incentive to travel to the state, which holds the first presidential nominating primary.
Potential Republican White House hopefuls, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, visited to endorse Brown.
But voters like Jerri Dalessio, 68, took a skeptical view of Brown's ties to the state where he grew up but only returned to recently.
"I just think Shaheen supports New Hampshire," Dalessio said.
(Reporting by Ted Siefer; Writing by Scott Malone; Editing by Jill Serjeant, Doina Chiacu and Peter Cooney)