Ex-NH senator runs for Fla.’s open seat

SARASOTA — Former New Hampshire Republican Sen. Bob Smith formally announced his run for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat Monday, two months after filing the legal documents.

Smith, who has lived in Sarasota for seven years after serving two terms as U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, was sitting on the sidelines and ready to retire, but became frustrated “as a true conservative with the direction the country was going,” said a spokesman, Carl Grooms.

Smith filed the papers with the Federal Election Commission and the state on April 13, but never made a proper announcement to the press, according to Grooms. “He wanted to make sure the media was well aware that he was in the race and he was serious,” Groom added, referring to Monday’s announcement.

Republicans seeking the seat are Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio. U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek is the top Democratic candidate for the seat Republican Mel Martinez is leaving after one term.

Smith was elected to the New Hampshire House in 1984 after two unsuccessful campaigns and then was elected to the Senate in 1990.

In a span of a few months, Smith also ran for president, dropped out of the Republican party, became an independent, ended his presidential campaign and returned to the GOP.