I hadn’t heard smokefree advocate Brandon Bell’s name since he was primaried out of office as part of a Republican purge of moderates in 2007. But today, Ben Tribbett reports he could be mounting a political comeback, considering a run for Virginia State Senate an independent:
Rumors are flying around today that Former State Senator Brandon Bell is about to become Brandon Bell, an Independent candidate to challenge incumbent GOP Senator Ralph Smith in the Senate seat based around Salem, Franklin and Roanoke.
This is a strong GOP seat, but with Botetourt taken out of the district in redistricting, it’s one where Brandon Bell defeated Smith in the Republican primary four years ago (when Smith won by less than 100 votes to snatch the seat from Bell). Without a Democratic candidate running, and lots of friends on the Republican side, Bell has an excellent shot of pulling off the upset as an Independent candidate of the ultra-conservative Smith.
Given the popularity of Virginia’s smoking ban in bars & restaurants (59% of Americans now want smoking banned in all public places), the support for clean air & public health that made Bell so unpopular in today’s extremist Republican Party could make him a rock-solid centrist choice.