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Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Again?

Former U.S. Senator Bob Smith (R-NH) announced Monday, via YouTube, he intends to challenge Governor Charlie Crist and former Florida House of Representatives Speaker Marco Rubio in the Republican primary for Florida’s vacant Senate seat in 2010.

Echoing Rubio’s conservative sentiments, the Florida snowbird said his entry into the already-crowded primary was precipitated by the Republican Party establishment’s unacceptable lurch to the left. “I can’t stand by and watch what is happening to our country – and our Party,” Smith said in his online address.

Smith’s new-found moral compass and concern for the direction of his country and of the Republican Party is awfully amusing, of course, given his opportunistic and decidedly vindictive nature.

After mounting a comically unsuccessful independent bid for President in 2000, Smith lost a bitter primary battle to then-Congressman John Sununu two years and two parties later. But unfortunately Smith’s presence on the national scene didn’t end with his ousting.

Hoping he might reemerge as a key political player, ostensibly as a Democrat after having sampled all competing parties, Smith endorsed Senator John Kerry in his ill-fated campaign for President in 2004, citing Kerry’s “courage and character” forged on the battlefields of Vietnam.

To no one’s surprise, Smith fell short – as in, tripped at the starting line – in his 2004 bid for Senate after publicly advocating for Democrat John Kerry’s campaign. Suffice it to say, partisan-aligned Republican primary voters did not positively receive Smith’s defection. His campaign aides have seemingly forecasted a different outcome for 2010, however, hoping the sixty-eight-year-old has finally cast aside his scarlet letter.

But does this carpet-bagging, party-defecting sore loser stand a chance at besting Crist, the establishment favorite, or Rubio, the up-and-coming conservative sweetheart? Not a chance.

Smith will face three considerable obstacles in his path to victory – namely, his notorious disloyalty to the party he now seeks to represent, his opportunistic relocation to Florida, and his likely ineffectiveness in driving the discussion in a field of popular candidates.

Assuming the stars align and Smith can, by some means, overcome the first two hurdles, his campaign will undoubtedly be eclipsed by Crist’s increasing popularity and Rubio’s endearing dark-horse quality.

When Smith loses, and he will, can we expect him to endorse President Barack Obama for reelection in 2012 and permanently sever ties with the ‘leftward lurching’ Republican Party? If only we were that lucky…

UPDATE: Insinuating that Smith is an emissary of the Republican establishment, commenters worry if Smith has been dispatched by Crist allies to dilute Rubio’s base of conservative support.

Had Smith not immediately relocated to Florida subsequent to his entertaining flameout in 2002 this scenario would be more plausible. But after explicitly blaming party elite for his primary loss at the hands of Sununu, it’s incredibly unlikely Smith is taking his marching orders from the Republican establishment. His motives now – like in 2000, 2002, and 2004 – are principally driven by his enormous ego; nothing more, nothing less.

Cross-posted at Skepticians.com.

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