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Smith ponders running for Senate as an independent

BOB JOHNSON,Associated Press Writer

MONTGOMERY (AP) — State Sen. Harri Anne Smith asked supporters Monday to help her decide if she should run for her southeast Alabama Senate seat as an independent after being disqualified as a Republican candidate.

Smith sent an e-mail asking supporters if they wanted her to run as an independent in her Senate district that includes Geneva, Dale and Houston counties. She said most of the reaction she received was positive and that the phone lines were jammed at her campaign headquarters in Dothan, with people offering to put up signs or otherwise help.

“The outpouring of support has been crazy,” Smith said.

The three-term senator said most of the people in her district responding to her e-mail did not like the party’s decision Saturday to disqualify her from running in the GOP Primary.

The party’s steering committee voted to disqualify Smith because she actively campaigned for Democratic U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright for the 2nd District seat in Congress in 2008.

Smith, a banker and former mayor of Slocomb, was a candidate in 2008 for the Republican nomination for the 2nd District seat and lost to state Rep. Jay Love of Montgomery in a bitter party runoff campaign. She then campaigned for Bright in the general election campaign.

Republican Party spokesman Philip Bryan said the committee decided that by campaigning for Bright, Smith “was in direct conflict with the Republican Party banner under which she sought to run.”

Bryan declined to comment Monday on the possibility Smith would run as an independent.

William Stewart, former chairman of the political science department at the University of Alabama, said it would be difficult for Smith to run as an independent.

“I tend to think if the Republicans put up a good candidate, the independent candidate is a long shot,” Stewart said.

The Republican candidates currently in the race for Smith’s seat are Dothan businessman George Flowers and former state Rep. Nathan Mathis. Jennifer Adams of Dothan is the only Democrat in the race.