Reversing his earlier position, former Senator Bob Smith has declared he will run for the New Hampshire Senate race in 2014.
“I just can’t bear to sit on the sidelines and watch what is going on,” Smith, who is now 72, told the New Hampshire Union-Leader. “I felt like I had a lot of fuel in the tank and changed my mind.”
Republicans have been increasingly optimistic about the vulnerability of incumbent Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen. However, Smith is not the one who they have been lobbying.
In a recent opt-ed, former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown trashed Democrats over ObamaCare, but single-out New Hampshire, raising eyebrows that he is seriously considering a run.
The entrance of Bob Smith does add a big name to the Republican field, but he comes with a few question marks.
The two-term senator, who was first elected in 1990, left statewide office more than a decade ago, and in an election that may very well turn out to be about new generations and antiestablishment platforms, he may have some challenges. He is also relatively unknown to younger voters and the southern part of the state has been flooded with a wave of newer residents.
Also, in an election that is sure to be ideological, particularly on the Republicans’ side, Smith has a history of party obfuscations, which raises serious questions about his ability to earn the conservative vote.
Smith made a small and short bid for the 2000 Republican presidential nomination, before he left the Republican Party to continue his White House run under the name of the Taxpayers’ Party.
He suffered a 2002 Senate re-election defeat in his primary, no doubt due to ill feelings from his lack of loyalty, to the unquestioned conservative John Sununu, no less. Then, in perhaps the worst move of his political career and most detrimental to his future in the Republican Party, he also moved to Florida where he would endorse the Democratic presidential nominee against President George W. Bush in 2004, now Sec. of State John Kerry.
Smith’s desire to return to the Senate is nothing new, however, after he made two ill-fated Senate runs in Florida within the last ten years.
Still, Jamie Burnett, who was Sununu’s statewide field director in the 2002 primary against Bob Smith, made statements that sounded open to Bob Smith as a Republican candidate.
“I don’t know who that person’s going to be,” Burnett said. “I know there’s been a lot of speculation about Scott Brown, but it seems like only Scott Brown knows what his next move is. But Smith is not the heavyweight that he thinks he might be in this race. Right now, Republicans still need to be focused on trying to recruit a strong candidate for that seat.”
As far as public polling, because Smith had made clear that he would not run, we do not have pollsters surveying a hypotethic race between Smith and Shaheen. No doubt about it that will soon change, then we can see just how viable Smith really is.