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Allen West rebuffs talk of a U.S. Senate run. Again. Bad idea?

The St. Peterburg Times' Alex Leary caught up with U.S. Rep. Allen West yesterday in Washington amid renewed speculation that he'd enter the race. Once again, West gave the same (and perhaps unwise) answer.

"This is where I'm supposed to be," West said. "What would I look like? (Voters) sent me up here to do this job and I need to stay focused. Look at these issues. I need to stay right here."

Ok, so it's not a clear "no." But it's darn close. And it's a strange answer.

First off, it posits there's a big difference between being a Rep. and Senator. Both are based "right here" in Washington. Both are members of Congress, the premier do-little body of American politics. True, Senators stay in office longer (6 as opposed to 2 years), so they have more time to do less with all their kabbalistic parliamentary procedures and cloak-room intrigue.

Also, if West wants to "stay right here" in Washington, chances are pretty good that he might have a better shot running for Senate. That's because he's based in liberal Broward County, where it'll be tough to draw a district that returns him (it's especially true now that the state Constitution ties the hands of legislators in drawing districts that favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party).

If West ran statewide, he could do what most Republicans do: Worry more about the 66 other counties in Florida rather than the People's Republic of Broward. Judging by the $1.5 million he raised as a sitting congressman (far more than any Republican senate candidate), West would have a relatively easy time in the GOP primary. And because President Obama will be on the 2010 ballot, it's a good bet black turnout will be high, giving West a chance at eating into the Democratic base against incumbent Bill Nelson.