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Bob Smith to Run for Senate in Florida

Former New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith (R) is hoping to make a return to Capitol Hill in 2010. The two-term Senator who was defeated in a 2002 primary told the New Hampshire Union Leader that he plans to run for the seat of retiring Florida Sen. Mel Martinez (R).“I have agonized as to whether to re-enter national politics,— Smith, who now lives in Sarasota, told the Union Leader. “I have concluded that I can no longer sit on the sidelines’ in this fight for the soul of America.—Smith, a one-time presidential candidate who left and then returned to the Republican Party during the 2000 presidential campaign, was defeated in the primary by then-Rep. John Sununu (R) in 2002. Sununu went on to win the seat that year but lost re-election in 2008.Smith flirted with running for the seat Martinez now holds in 2004, but ended that bid after citing a poor start in fundraising.This time around, Smith seems likely to have another tough climb to the party’s nomination. Although popular Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) doesn’t plan to announce anything until early May, some party insiders believe it is increasingly likely that he is preparing to run in 2010. But should Crist take a pass on the race, the GOP field would become wide open. Possible candidates include Reps. Vern Buchanan and Mario Diaz-Balart, St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker, former state Speakers Allan Bense and Marco Rubio, former state Sen. Dan Webster and Marion Thorpe, the state’s former chief medical officer.On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek and state Sen. Dan Gelber are running.

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