Editorial: Smith for Senate? Well, that could be fun!
It’s easy to understand why plenty of New Hampshire voters admire U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. She is serious-minded and well-informed. She gets things done without excessive ego or grandstanding. She looks out for her constituents. She isn’t extreme. In an age of Anthony Weiner and Stella Tremblay, she’s a politician who never makes you cringe with embarrassment.
Yet we’ve always wished for just a bit more pizzazz from Shaheen, especially during campaign season.
Enter Bob Smith!
Smith, the former Republican U.S. senator and 1st District congressman, told WMUR’s James Pindell this week that he “hasn’t ruled out a run” for the U.S. Senate in 2014 and is “starting to look seriously at the race.” Well, now we’ve got some fun.
Smith, who moved to Florida but maintains a summer house in Tuftonboro, says his focus would be on the national debt. This sounds ultra-serious, but our memory of Smith is that there’s often something unexpected just around the corner.
Remember the time he brought a plastic fetus to the Senate floor? Remember his concern for circus elephants performing at the Capitol? And for the Russian monkeys NASA was trying to send into space? Remember when he (briefly) ran for president? Remember when he (briefly) left the Republican Party?
There might have been a Smith-Shaheen race back in 2002. But before voters could see what that was like, Smith was ousted in a Republican primary by John E. Sununu, who went on to beat Shaheen – who then returned the favor six years later. Is this the race we’ve been waiting a dozen years for?
Who knows if Smith will truly take the plunge. And, even if he did, Republican primary voters rejected him dramatically once; will they really be likely to reconsider all these years later?
The GOP is in a period of reassessment. It’s looking for new messengers for a re-calibrated message. Smith isn’t exactly a fresh face, but for voters who like a little excitement with their budget-balancing, this might just be a terrific campaign.