There are plenty of perennial candidates in both parties, who seem to keep running for one office after another, even after a series of defeats, but I can’t think of anyone quite like former Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire.
Former New Hampshire Republican senator Bob Smith said he has changed his mind and will try to defeat Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen for his old seat next year.
Smith told WMUR Political Scoop on Sunday that he had made a decision not to run largely to get out of the way for other candidates, but as weeks came and went no major candidates got into the race, and he kept getting encouragement to run.
In arguably the most awkward phrasing possible, Smith told WMUR, “I have a decision to run again for the Senate.”
There will be plenty of time for speculation about Smith’s chances – it seems likely that Shaheen will be considered the favorite – and whether he’ll be alone in seeking the Republican nomination. But in the meantime, what amazes me about Smith is his career trajectory over the last decade or so.
Consider his Wikipedia bio, which seems hard to believe, but which is accurate. Smith’s career started with a few terms in the House, before moving up to the Senate in 1990, and winning re-election in 1996. So far, so good. But in 2000, things got weird – Smith ran for the Republican presidential nomination, but then left the party after his campaign faltered, joining the Taxpayers’ Party and seeking its presidential nomination. When that didn’t work out, Smith changed parties again, became an independent, and ended his national ambitions.
Smith then changed parties once more, re-joining the Republican Party, and running for re-election in 2002. By then, his constituents were starting to tire of his antics, and Smith lost in a GOP primary. At this point, most folks would call it quits.
But not Smith, who moved to Florida and ran for the Senate in 2004. That didn’t work out well, but it didn’t stop him from running another unsuccessful Senate campaign in Florida in 2010.
Smith then moved back to New Hampshire, where he said he wouldn’t run for the Senate, only to change his mind once more.
If there’s anyone else with a political c.v. like this one, I can’t think of him or her.