Smith Backs McCollum in Fla. Senate Race

Former Sen. Bob Smith (search), who recently ended his campaign to return to the Senate, endorsed former Rep. Bill McCollum (search) in the race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Bob Graham (search).

"He shares my vision for a safer, more prosperous America," Smith, a Republican, said in a statement.

Smith, who dropped out earlier this month, raised only $66,000 for the campaign in a crowded race that features five Republican candidates who have topped the $1 million mark.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez led all Republicans in fund-raising during the first three months of the year, bringing in $1.7 million.

Other GOP candidates are Miami attorney Larry Klayman, House Speaker Johnnie Byrd and Miami businessman Doug Gallagher.

Smith served two terms in the Senate representing New Hampshire before being defeated by John Sununu in the 2002 Republican primary. He moved to Sarasota last year, where he was hired as a real estate specialist in June to sell high-end waterfront properties in Longboat Key.

Democrats running to replace Graham include former Education Commissioner Betty Castor, U.S. Rep. Peter Deutsch and Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas.