John DiStaso's Granite Status: Former Sen. Bob Smith will not try to return to Washington
"I gave it a lot of thought," the veteran Republican said Wednesday morning. "Normally, I'm very decisive but I had a lot of difficulty making up my mind. I went into all aspects of it and right up until yesterday, I was on the fence. That's when I decided that I wasn't going to do it."
Smith, 72, said there was "no stark or dramatic reason" for deciding against trying to take on Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. "I just weighed all the options and decided I did not want to pursue it."
Smith said it's doubtful he will run again for public office.
"I feel good. I'm in good health," he said. "But when you get to be my age – my family was supportive but deep down they were concerned whether this was best for me and them. When you serve in public office, there are pluses but sacrifices are made by the family."
Smith has homes in both Florida and Tuftonboro. He and his wife, MaryJo, have three children and three grandchildren.
Smith said he felt he had a "good chance" to win the GOP nomination and the Senate seat itself, and made it clear, "I deeply appreciate the wonderful comments and emails from people all over this state and country who were very kind and encouraging."
Smith said he is writing a book, "and a good portion of it will be about New Hampshire politics."
He said he will also be willing to help other candidates for the Senate and other seats.
Smith's decision leaves former state Sen. Jim Rubens as the only announced Republican candidate for the seat. Former U.S. Rep. Charlie Bass continues to mull a candidacy, while former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown, who has a home in New Hampshire, has not ruled out a run.
Conservative activist Karen Testerman is still exploring a candidacy, while state Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley has taken himself out of consideration.
Smith, known for his staunch conservatism and straightforward style, represented the state's 1st Congressional District from 1984 to 1990. He won the U.S. Senate seat in 1990 and again in 1996, but lost to John E. Sununu in the 2002 GOP primary.
(See earlier Granite Status reports elsewhere on this page or by clicking on "Granite Status" above.)