Last week, he introduced himself to 15 Republicans at Reading Public Library, 20 at ParkView Specialty Hospital in Springfield, and 12 assembled over slices at Caruso Pizza in Melrose. Thursday brought a welcome treat: 100 Republicans in a ballroom in Pittsfield, rapt and ready for his pitch.
No crowd is too small, no event too far-flung for Kevin P. Scott, Wakefield Republican on a mission. The former selectman and member of the town Board of Public Works has been barnstorming the state hoping to be more David than Don Quixote. Despite the odds, he wants to unseat US Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
''I love the political process, as tough and rough as it can be," Scott said yesterday, after making the rounds at the Friends of Lake Quannapowitt breakfast in Wakefield. ''I'm a grass-roots moderate conservative figure that's willing to say he can do this, willing to say he can take on Ted Kennedy."
Scott is not the only obscure aspirant determined to oust the third-longest-serving senator in US history, never mind the liberal lion's 43-year record and $7.8 million war chest.
''Our state is not rightly served when the rest of the country views us [as] a bastion of far left-wing liberalism," Kenneth G. Chase, 44, a Belmont Republican, said yesterday in between painting his house and watching the Patriots game. ''There are other voices in the state that ought to be heard and have a right to be heard."
Both men say they intend to seek the 2006 GOP nomination for US Senate. Chase plans to make a formal announcement in January; Scott, who has been crisscrossing the state in his Hyundai Accent since June, sent out a press release last week. To qualify for the primary, each must gather 10,000 certified signatures by May.
Eleven years after Mitt Romney challenged Kennedy, the state Republican Party says it welcomes the two newest comers, though officials say neither man was recruited to run.
''We all agree that Ted Kennedy needs to go, and we're happy we've got two candidates out there who want to do that," said Matt Wylie, executive director of the state GOP. ''From our perspective, it's great for the party to have two candidates out there campaigning actively."
Asked about the challengers yesterday, Kennedy's office issued a statement that made no mention of Scott or Chase.
''Senator Kennedy believes that America can do better and works every day for the people of Massachusetts, to make healthcare more affordable, to improve education to keep us more globally competitive, to create jobs, and to secure our borders and keep us safe," spokeswoman Melissa Wagoner said. ''He views the campaign as running to continue the privilege of the office, not against anyone."
Both Republicans claim homespun roots.
Scott, a Wakefield native, is the former owner of an automotive reconditioning business and of a firm that recruited technical computing staff. A mountain biker and self-described health nut, he was a Democrat until four years ago, when he became convinced the GOP was the party of ''common sense," he said. He also protested the Iraq war, but says the United States must now stabilize the Middle Eastern country.
Chase -- ''like the bank, only without the money," he says -- runs a language-instruction firm, the French and Spanish Saturday School, with his wife, Marisa. A Stoneham native who grew up in Medford, he speaks to his children, Camille, 10, and Sebastien, 7, in French at home. He has run for office twice before, losing last year to US Representative Edward G. Markey and in 1988 for state representative from Medford.
Both cast themselves as moderates.
Chase said he wants to reduce dependence on Middle Eastern oil by enlisting the Masschusetts Institute of Technology and other institutions to come up with solutions. He blames Kennedy for not doing more in that realm and says America's thirst for Middle Eastern oil led to the Gulf War, the Iraq war, and the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
He cites statements attributed to Osama bin Laden that the buildup of US bases in Saudi Arabia was one reason Al Qaeda attacked the United States.
The husband of a Spaniard and son of a Canadian, he also wants to reduce illegal immigration.
''Anybody who comes here ought to be able to do what my wife and mother did, which is simply stand in a line and fill out the paperwork and enter when you can do so," Chase said.
Scott wants better management in Washington. As a former town official, he points to a contract he backed that he says saved Wakefield thousands on trash collection. He also proudly cites a successful effort to have the town add a sidewalk on North Avenue and making 1,000 phone calls in support of a new park on the shores of Lake Quannapowitt.
Though Scott supports abortion rights, he wants to see fewer abortions performed.
''When I go to bed," Scott said, ''I dream at night about reducing the amount of abortions by 70 to 80 percent."
Both men have yet to delve much into fund-raising. Chase said he has not assembled a staff. Scott said he has a team of volunteers, eight interns, and his childhood friend, Jeff Zagaria, a music teacher from Florida.
Challenging a political titan, they are trying to strike the right tone on the campaign trail.
''We want to show humility and we want to show confidence," Chase said.