In 1990, Smith, as Blakk, ran against Richard M. Daley for the office of mayor of Chicago, Illinois. The campaign was chronicled in the 1991 video Drag in for Votes. Smith's next campaign was for the presidency in 1992, under the slogan "Lick Bush in '92!" and documented in the 1993 video of the same name. Smith also ran for president in 1996 with the slogan "Lick Slick Willie in '96!" In each of these campaigns Smith ran on the Queer Nation Party ticket.
Following the 1992 campaign, Smith relocated to San Francisco, California and joined the African-American stage comedy troupe Pomo Afro Homos. He launched his talk show, Late Nite with Joan Jett Blakk.