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Former school board member Jeff Smith says he’s ready for a full-on challenge to Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham.

“I’m not positive yet, but we’re probably going to file in the next couple of days,” says Smith, who has run an exploratory campaign since December.

He’s already on the attack: In a posting today on his Web site, Smith unfavorably compares Graham to Ward 8 Councilmember Marion Barry.

In fact, Smith goes out of his way to brush off Barry, calling his misdeeds “very old news,” in order to take shots at Graham and his connections to the taxi scandal that led to the arrest of top aide Ted Loza. (Which would seem to be the older news, by Smith’s logic.)

“Apart from its redundancy and opportunistic timing, the move to censure Barry raises the specter of a double-standard at City Hall,” Smith writes. “Whereas Barry, who represents Ward 8, has suddenly received renewed levels of public scrutiny, other similar cases of outright scandal right here in Ward 1 remain unresolved and without similar rebuke.”

Furthermore: “What thoughtful spectators of this political play should be observing, therefore, is not the elaborate public pantomime of Marion Barry’s censure for ‘corruption’ but the more insidious aggregate of tolerated corruption of the current Ward 1 Council member. Jim Graham and Marion Barry: a double standard, or a reminder of a long-existing need to clean up City Hall?”

In closing, Smith writes: “Join us on March 19th, the first day of Spring, to launch Spring Cleaning. It’s time to clean house.”

Sounds like a campaign kickoff to LL.

Smith says that’s indeed what it will be if he gets his papers in on time; if not, “that’s our spring activities event,” he says.

Smith is taking on Graham’s formidable war chest—-he had more than $160,000 banked as of Jan. 31. Smith reported raising $28,250 for his exploratory effort at that point, with $16,596 left to spend.

He’ll also have to contend with the sharp tongue of Graham campaign adviser Chuck Thies, who notes that all of Graham’s earmarks survived investigator Robert S. Bennett‘s scrutiny. He adds: “Unless Jeff used the time he freed up by quitting the School Board mid-term to pursue a law degree or achieve competence as an investigator, I suggest he refrain from issuing inflammatory screeds. In the same way that voters don’t take kindly to elected officials who quit on them, they also won’t stomach unfounded conspiracy theories.”