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New Hampshire's National Shame

Recently, former New Hampshire Senator Bob Smith wrote a letter to the Kerry campaign, endorsing Kerry for president. In this press release, Smith got top billing of Republicans backing Kerry. Many people recall Smith as one of the most conservative members of the Senate, and might be surprised at his endorsing Kerry.

But here in Cow Hampshire, we know the real story.

Bob Smith was a history teacher with ambitions back in the early 80's, when he fell under the scrutiny of the Union Leader, New Hampshire's largest, only state-wide (and very right-wing) newspaper. They backed him for Congress in '82, unsuccessfully, then got him elected in '84. He went on to the Senate in '90. While in Washington, he quickly established himself as an extreme right-winger, a taller but less bright version of Newt Gingrich.

In his second term in the Senate, though, "Buffalo Bob" (as some of us called him) got a bit full of himself. He decided to run for President in 1999, and ran fervently, seeking the Christian Right backing for the Republican nomination. His campaign quickly became the joke many of us knew it was going to be, and he eventually pulled the plug on it. However, his monumental pride was wounded. He quit the Republican party in a fit of pique and obtained the nomination of the ultra-conservative U.S. Taxpayers Partry. When it became obvious to even him that that was going nowhere, he quit them and decided to run as an independent. Finally, in October of 1999, he gave up entirely and endorsed George W. Bush, rejoining the Republican party.

But New Hampshire Republicans didn't forget his disloyalty. The Granite State GOP has always been divided into two factions, which I call the Arrogant Rich and the Arrogant Stupid ("Plutocrats" and "Idealogues" might be more accurate, but I like my own labels.). Smith had been the leader of the Arrogant Stupid, but his base was stung by his betrayal. The Arrogant Rich (led by Judd Gregg, former tax lawyer and son of a governor, who has spent over 30 years on the public payroll) saw an opportunity to take him down. Popular Congressman John E. Sununu (son of former governor and Bush 41 Chief of Staff, later CNN host John Sununu) took on Smith in the 2002 Senatorial primary, and smacked him down severely.

Smith, crushed by his defeat, limped off to Florida to lick his wounds. He went to work in real estate, briefly flirted with a run for Senator. But he carries his grudges. He still remembers his loss to George Bush in the 2000 primary campaign, and now he sees a chance to score a little payback. But even his old puppet masters at the Union Leader have abandoned him.

Many of us in New Hampshire have long memories, too, Buffalo Bob. Florida is welcome to keep you.

J.

(Thanks to Wikipedia for refreshing my poor memory on the finer details.)

(Author's note: as always, this is all personal opinion. Take it for what it's worth -- which is exactly what you paid for it.)


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Comments (13)

What a horrible choice for ... (Below threshold)

What a horrible choice for New Hampshirites. Lunatic far right Smith, or pro-Palestinian-terrorism Sununu.

Huh? Spoons, do you know so... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Huh? Spoons, do you know something I don't? I'll admit I haven't followed Sununu's career that closely, but I've always had the general impression he's been pretty moderate and reasonable. I know his father, John H. Sununu, wasn't exactly Israel's best friend, but I didn't think it had passed on to his namesake. Got any info you can share with this (raised Methodist, born-again agnostic) proud Zionist?

J.

I thought Sununu's record o... (Below threshold)

I thought Sununu's record on Israel issues was well known, but ask and ye shall receive:

Here's one: Sununu one of only two Republicans who supported allowing federal money to be sent to the Palestinian Authority.

And another: Sununu has been one of the Palestinian Authority's most reliable allies in Congress, even voting against a 1999 resolution that urged the PA to tamp down violence. That same year he opposed a resolution condemning efforts by the Palestinians (including Hamas and Hezbollah) to justify attacks against Israel with the Geneva Convention. And he voted against a resolution imploring the State Department to demand information from Lebanon and Syria about the whereabouts of Israeli MIAs.

I had more in my Sununu collection, but the links have all expired.

Well, DAMN...OK, I... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Well, DAMN...

OK, I think I know what 2008 Senate race I'm gonna be paying very, VERY close attention to... and perhaps a little constituent action might be in order.

Spoons, I am deeply embarassed and profoundly grateful. I knew I was ignorant in some areas, but this one completely caught me off guard. The good senator could be in for some unpleasant times, if I have my way...

J.

Pshaw. It's kinda hard to ... (Below threshold)

Pshaw. It's kinda hard to keep track of the pecidillos of 100 Senators. Sununu just happens to be a particular bugbear for me.

In fairness, though, I should note that many in the Republican "establishment" (including National Review) have supported Sununu despite these "flaws."

Well, Smith might be for Ke... (Below threshold)
Jim:

Well, Smith might be for Kerry, but today on the radio (Hannity and Mark Levin Shows) I heard two Democrat mayors -- one from Youngstown, Ohio, the other from Minneapolis -- endorse Bush and urging moderate and conservative voters to ignore party affiliation and vote for the President.

Of course, these guys will be lambasted by the news media. They only bestow kudos on Republicans who endorse Kerry. Another sign of Liberal bias.

- The problem with being an... (Below threshold)

- The problem with being an opportunist is sometimes the well runs a little dry and then you have to be inventive like Kerry......

Just because he basically e... (Below threshold)
Dave:

Just because he basically endorsed John Kerry which sounds like an endorsement after deep consideration and with much pain from a life-long conservative Republican.

I certaintly do not feel that way about notable Democrats that have endorsed GWB like Ed Koch.

Whatever, it is just more of the same from the conservative mantra - either you are with us or against us. So throw the former friends under the bus.

Dave (the other one)

I think we are officially "... (Below threshold)

I think we are officially "Granite Staters".

Dave, what do you think of ... (Below threshold)

Dave, what do you think of Zell Miller?

Sununu has voted for foreig... (Below threshold)
Shaun:

Sununu has voted for foreign aid packages that included about $3 billion to boost Israel's military and economy, and opposed a measure that would have reduced aid. He also supported the military tribunals for Arab prisoners. In May 2002 he voted for the Senate resolution expressing solidarity with Israel in its fight against terrorism. A lot was put out there by Smith in the last election to raise doubt on Sununu because of his ethnicity (being of Lebanese descent). Sununu is not a supporter of the terrorists, which is what is being insinuated.

Mcghee,Even though... (Below threshold)
Dave:

Mcghee,

Even though Zell is a registered Democrat, he has a more conservative voting record than all of the Democrats in the Senate and 6 of the 51 Republicans in the Senate (American Conservative Union - Conservative.org). In addition, he voted with GWB more about 2/3 of the time.

So for all intents and purposes he is a Republican nationally who is locally registered as a Democrat.


But I have no issues with Zell expressing his opinion and endorsing GWB. He has his reasons and seem sincere (like I do not think he is looking for anything in return).

Dave (the other one)

Fair enough. A lot of peopl... (Below threshold)

Fair enough. A lot of people on your side of the aisle have dissed Zell a lot worse than the things Jay is saying about Bob Smith, and I was curious since you had mentioned Koch but not Zell Miller.

Like I said: fair enough.




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