Eleven-term state Rep. Steve Smith failed to win Republican Party endorsement for his re-election but has some new support in his corner.

Citizens for Smith, an independent campaign group, has been set up to support his quest to return to the Legislature.

An independent political group created just to support one lawmaker is a rarity.

Steve Smith/courtesy Minnesota House of Representatives

Steve Smith/courtesy Minnesota House of Representatives

"It certainly is unusual, that's for sure," said Jeff Sigurdson, assistant executive director of the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.

A Hot Dish review of all the state independent spending groups found no other committee designed to support a single candidate.

But Jason George, the group's treasurer, said Smith is worth supporting.

George, a lobbyist for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 who is supporting Smith on his own time, said that Smith is a lawmaker who works with people from many political perspectives to get things done.

George said the group is still solidifying and hasn't yet raised any money.

Smith, of Mound, was passed over for endorsement this spring in favor of Cindy Pugh, co-founder of the Southwest Metro Tea Party.

The incumbent, an attorney, has crossed party lines on some issues, including joining just a handful of Republicans in voting against the marriage amendment last year.

He has also endured some personal struggles, which last year resulting in his ouster as chair of the House Judiciary committee.

He has overwhelmingly won re-election in the last several cycles. Smith garnered 67 percent of the vote in 2010; 63 percent in 2008 and 96 percent in 2006, when he had no opponent. He did not face a primary in any of those years.