Roby Smith, a Davenport businessman, formally announced Friday that he is running for the Republican nomination against state Sen. David Hartsuch,


Smith said Republicans in the district are worried about Hartsuch’s ability to win a general election race.

“Democrats smell blood in the water,” he said Friday.

Smith co-owns a small business that produces and sells countertops, flooring and bathroom vanities.

He is making his second bid for office. In 2006, he lost a bid to unseat Rep. Jim Lykam, D-Davenport.

Smith said he and Hartsuch have similar views on issues important to social conservatives, including same-sex marriage and abortion. He said, however, Hartsuch has made some statements that have outraged others.

“My emphasis would be on pro-business, pro-education,” he said.

Smith cited a flap Hartsuch had in 2008 with Republican presidential candidate John McCain’s campaign.

After being refused a chance to speak at a rally because of a comment he had made in 2006 about homosexual attitudes, Hartsuch sent out a news release saying the GOP nominee was showing “gay pride.”

“That says a lot,” Smith said.

Hartsuch says he wasn’t attacking McCain, only that he was being snubbed because of his defense of traditional marriage.

He also rejected Smith’s argument that he might not get elected.

“I would say I’m more electable than he is. I won my election,” he said.

A small business owner, Smith said he could bring ideas to the table to help other businesspeople. He said too many regulations and high commercial property taxes are hurting businesses.

He also said he backs a public referendum before a tax increase could be put into place and a supermajority in the Statehouse before any borrowing could be done.

Smith is married and has three children.

He has a bachelor of science degree in business administration from Concordia University, in Seward, Neb.

Senate District 41 includes Bettendorf and Davenport east of Brady Street.

Already two Democrats, Richard Clewell and Dave Thede, have said they will run for the Democratic nomination in the district.