Robert C. Smith

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For the 19th century British astrologer, see Robert Cross Smith.
Robert C. Smith
Robert C Smith.jpg
United States Senator
from New Hampshire
In office
December 7, 1990 – January 3, 2003
Preceded by Gordon Humphrey
Succeeded by John Sununu
Chairperson of the Senate Environment Committee
In office
January 20, 2001 – June 6, 2001
Preceded by Harry Reid
Succeeded by Jim Jeffords
In office
November 2, 1999 – January 3, 2001
Preceded by John Chafee
Succeeded by Harry Reid
Chairperson of the Senate Ethics Committee
In office
January 7, 1997 – November 2, 1999
Preceded by Mitch McConnell
Succeeded by Pat Roberts
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's 1st district
In office
January 3, 1985 – December 7, 1990
Preceded by Norman D'Amours
Succeeded by Bill Zeliff
Personal details
Born Robert Clinton Smith
(1941-03-30) March 30, 1941 (age 73)
Trenton, New Jersey, U.S.
Political party Republican (Before 1999; 2000–present)
Constitution (1999)
Independent (1999–2000)
Spouse(s) Mary Jo Hutchinson (1966–present)
Children Jennifer
Robert
Jason
Alma mater Lafayette College
Religion Roman Catholicism
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Navy
Years of service 1965–1967 (Active)
1962–1965, 1967–1969 (Reserve)
Battles/wars Vietnam War

Robert Clinton Smith (born March 30, 1941) is an American politician who represented New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District from 1985–1990 and the United States Senate from 1990 to 2003.

First elected to the House of Representatives as a Republican in 1984, he was re-elected twice before running for the Senate in 1990, winning the open seat and assuming it early when incumbent Gordon J. Humphrey resigned. He was re-elected in 1996 and then entered the Republican primary for the 2000 presidential election. After failing to gain traction, he withdrew before the primaries began and joined the Taxpayers' Party, seeking their nomination instead. He then changed parties again, becoming an Independent before dropping out of the presidential race altogether. He then re-joined the Republican Party to become Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Smith ran for re-election in 2002 but lost the Republican primary to Congressman John E. Sununu, who won the general election. After his defeat he moved to Florida and briefly ran for the Senate from there in 2004 and in 2010 but dropped out early on in both cases after faring poorly in polls of the Republican primary. He subsequently returned to New Hampshire, where he declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in the 2014 Senate election.

Early life[edit]

Smith was born in Trenton, New Jersey, the son of Margaret (née Eldridge) and Donald Smith.[1] He obtained a bachelor's degree from Lafayette College in 1965 and did graduate work at California State University, Long Beach. He served in the United States Navy Reserve from 1962 to 1965, and was on active duty from 1965 to 1967, including a year in Vietnam. He remained in the Navy Reserve until 1969. Smith settled in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where he taught history and English. He also served on his local school board and got into the real estate business as owner and operator of the Yankee Pedlar brokerage.

Political career[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Smith relocated to New Hampshire and ran for New Hampshire's 1st congressional district in the 1982 elections. With the recession and President Reagan's unpopularity aiding Democratic candidates, Smith lost to incumbent Norman D'Amours by 55% to 45%. D'Amours did not seek re-election in 1984, unsuccessfully running for the U.S. Senate instead and Smith was elected in his place, riding Reagan's coattails to beat Democrat Dudley Dudley by 59% to 40%. A State Representative, her campaign slogan was "Dudley Dudley, Worth Repeating". Smith responded "Dudley Dudley, Liberal Liberal".[2] Smith was re-elected in 1986 and 1988 by wide margins, first beating Democrat James M. Demers 56% to 44%, then beating Democrat Joseph F. Keefe by 60% to 40%.

U.S. Senate[edit]

Smith did not run for re-election in 1990, instead running for the U.S. Senate seat that was being vacated by retiring Republican Gordon J. Humphrey, who was retiring after pledging not to serve more than two terms. His opponent was Democrat John A. Durkin, who had previously served in the Senate from 1975 to 1980. Smith beat him in a landslide, taking 65% of the vote to Durkin's 31%. Humphrey resigned in December after being elected to the New Hampshire Senate and Smith was appointed to replace him for the final two months of his term.

The Vietnam War POW/MIA issue, concerning the fate of possible missing or captured Americans in Vietnam, became Smith's major issue in Congress in 1985, partly spurred on by his growing up without knowing how his own father died in World War II. Smith helped create, and served as vice-chairman of, the 1991–1993 Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs. Smith ran for re-election in 1996 and only narrowly defeated Democratic former US Representative Richard Swett, taking 49% of the vote to Swett's 46%. Smith had established himself as the most conservative Senator from the Northeast, and Bill Clinton's coattails nearly caused his defeat. On the night of the election many American media networks incorrectly projected that Swett had won.[3]

Smith, second from right, watches as President George W. Bush signs a bill.

In January 1999, at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, Smith announced that he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States (at the time the front-runner was Texas Governor George W. Bush).[4] In July, after failing to gain any ground in the presidential race and before any primaries or caucuses had taken place, Smith announced he was leaving the Republican Party and would seek the nomination of the Taxpayers' Party. One month later, Smith left the Taxpayers Party after claiming that ideologues within the party resisted his candidacy due to his Roman Catholicism and announced as an Independent. He withdrew completely from the race in October and endorsed Bush.

In the meantime, Republican Senator John Chafee of Rhode Island had died and thus the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works had re-opened. Smith recanted his repudiation of the Republican party, claiming it had been "a mistake" and claiming that since he had never officially changed his voting registration that he had never left the party. Smith was then elected as Chafee's successor to the chairmanship.[5]

In 2000, Smith attempted to assist the Miami-based family of Elián González after Elián was returned to his father's custody by accompanying them to the entrance of Andrews Air Force Base, where Elián was being held; they were turned away.[6]

Smith ran for re-election to a third term in 2002, but was defeated in the Republican primary by Congressman John E. Sununu, winning 45% of the vote to Sununu's 53%.[7] After his defeat, The New York Times reported that many Republicans were "relieved" that he had lost, having never forgiven him for leaving the party in 1999.[8] He subsequently moved to Sarasota, Florida to sell real estate.

Post-Congressional career[edit]

Smith ran for the U.S. Senate seat from Florida in 2004 against Mel Martinez, but dropped out after raising little money[9] and receiving less than 1% support in Republican polls. Martinez would go on to win the election.

Less than a month before the November 2004 election, Smith wrote an op-ed for the Concord Monitor in which he denounced the lack of Republican outrage over phone jamming on Election Day 2002, in which Republican operatives had jammed phone banks used by the Democrats to contact Democratic voters and get them to the polls. Smith implied that this action may have made the difference in Shaheen's narrow loss to Sununu.[10]

In December 2007, Smith endorsed Congressman Duncan Hunter of California for the Republican presidential nomination.

In January 2008, Smith began writing editorials on the web page of the Constitution Party (formerly called the U.S. Taxpayers' Party), which fueled speculation that Smith intended to seek the party's presidential nomination. The nomination went to Chuck Baldwin, a Baptist pastor.

In February 2009, with Martinez having announced that he would retire from the Senate in January 2011, Smith was again considering running for the seat,[11][12] although it was also reported that he was considering a return to New Hampshire to run for the Senate seat there, especially if his old nemesis John E. Sununu (who was defeated for re-election in 2008) sought the seat.[13]

On April 9, 2009, Politico reported that Smith would seek the Republican nomination for Florida's 2010 Senate election.[14] He dropped out of the race in March 2010, after faring poorly in the polls against Governor Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio.[15]

In mid-2013 Smith expressed interest in facing Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen in the 2014 Senate election.[16] In October he ruled out a run,[17] but in December announced that he had reconsidered and would be a candidate for the U.S. Senate after all. [18] He officially declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination in March 2014.[19] If Smith wins New Hampshire's 2014 U.S. Senate race he will tie Dan Coats' modern mark for the longest gap in U.S. Senate service in the direct election era (12 years).[20]

Personal[edit]

He and his wife Mary Jo have three children.

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Kapochunas, Rachel (8 January 2007). "Dudley Not Redundant for Shea-Porter". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  3. ^ Crabtree, Susan (December 2, 1996). "1996 Ad". Insight on the News. Retrieved 2012-04-29. "An incorrect exit poll by Voter News Service, or VNS, resulted in an early and ultimately incorrect projection of victory in New Hampshire for Democratic Senate candidate Dick Swett over Republican incumbent Sen. Robert C. Smith. "Every election night, you know, its cardiac-arrest time in some state, in some race - sometimes in several races," CBS' Dan Rather explained at 9:40 p.m. EST. "This race is as hot and tight as a too-small bathing suit on a too-long car ride back from the beach." But the network "oops" came too late for a number of newspapers that featured Swett's exit-poll victory in their early editions." 
  4. ^ Berke, Richard L. (19 February 1999). "Native Son Says He's Running, And Few Are Happy About It". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  5. ^ Alvarez, Lizette (3 November 1999). "Prodigal Smith Named Chairman of Senate Environment Panel". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  6. ^ "Newsweek". 2000-05-01. 
  7. ^ http://www.fec.gov/pubrec/fe2002/senate.htm
  8. ^ Hulse, Carl (12 September 2002). "Campaign Season; G.O.P. Is Relieved At Republican's Loss". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Former New Hampshire senator ends bid for Florida seat". Associated Press. April 15, 2004. 
  10. ^ Bob Smith (October 18, 2004). "Phone-jamming was an outrage; Republicans should speak out in anger". Concord Monitor. 
  11. ^ Aaron Blake (January 29, 2009). "Former Sen. Bob Smith weighs a run ... in Florida". The Hill. 
  12. ^ "Senator Bob Smith On Running for the Florida Senate Seat in 2010". YouTube. February 16, 2009. 
  13. ^ Vin Gopal (2009-02-23). "The Return of Bob Smith". Politics1.com. 
  14. ^ Glenn Thrush (2009-04-09). "Snowbird Smith Running in Florida". Politico.com. 
  15. ^ Wallace, Jeremy (March 30, 2009). "Smith drops out of Senate race again". Political Insider. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  16. ^ Pindell, James (23 July 2013). "Former U.S. Sen. Bob Smith not ruling out political comeback against Shaheen". WMUR. Retrieved 24 July 2013. 
  17. ^ John DiStaso (October 9, 2013). "John DiStaso's Granite Status: Former Sen. Bob Smith will not try to return to Washington". New Hampshire Union Leader. Retrieved October 10, 2013. 
  18. ^ http://www.wmur.com/political-scoop/fmr-us-sen-bob-smith-changes-mind-will-challenge-shaheen/-/16254890/23231770/-/brr43f/-/index.html
  19. ^ Cathy Burke (2014-03-05). "It's Official: Ex-Sen. Smith to Challenge Shaheen in NH". Newsmax.com. 
  20. ^ Ostermeier, Eric (December /4/2013). "Bob Smith and the 12-Year Itch". Smart Politics. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Norman D'Amours
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from New Hampshire's 1st congressional district

1985–1990
Succeeded by
Bill Zeliff
Party political offices
Preceded by
Gordon Humphrey
Republican nominee for Senator from New Hampshire
(Class 2)

1990, 1996
Succeeded by
John Sununu
United States Senate
Preceded by
Gordon Humphrey
United States Senator (Class 2) from New Hampshire
1990–2003
Served alongside: Warren Rudman, Judd Gregg
Succeeded by
John Sununu
Preceded by
Mitch McConnell
Chairperson of the Senate Ethics Committee
1997–1999
Succeeded by
Pat Roberts
Preceded by
John Chafee
Chairperson of the Senate Environment Committee
1999–2001
Succeeded by
Harry Reid
Preceded by
Harry Reid
Chairperson of the Senate Environment Committee
2001
Succeeded by
Jim Jeffords