Curtis Coleman to attend AR Tea Party’s “Rally on the River”
Following up on this post from the other day, I’ve learned a little more about Curtis Coleman, who’s considering a run for Senate against Blanche Lincoln in 2010.
Coleman now has a Facebook group, Coleman for U. S. Senate, where he briefly lays out his platform. After joining the group, I received a message thanking me and informing me that he will be attending Arkansas Tea Party, Inc.‘s Rally on the River Monday, June 15. If you hope to meet him, he’ll be wearing a white sports jacket over a black shirt.
I’ve also had the opportunity to learn more details of Mr. Coleman’s biography, which he graciously offered in our personal correspondence. He and his wife are active members of Immanuel Baptist Church in Little Rock. Coleman teaches a Bible study class that provides meals for residents of Our House, a shelter for the working homeless in Little Rock. He also serves as chair of the Counseling Committee for this year’s Central Arkansas Cityfest with Luis Palau, a festival to celebrate a “season of service.” He has three children, six grandchildren, and another on the way. “They are a large part of the reason I’m seriously considering this run for the U. S. Senate,” Coleman said.
He received an associate’s degree in religion from Central Baptist College, his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Southern Arkansas University, and studied Pastoral Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He then served as a Baptist preacher in churches in Arkansas and Texas before he began a stint as a speaker/teacher at conferences and in local churches.
In 1992, he ran Mike Huckabee’s first campaign for public office, an unsuccessful Senate race against the powerful Arkansas politician Dale Bumpers. He left the ministry at age 45, then later, in 1999, founded Safe Foods Corporation where he continues to serve as CEO. Coleman states, “My leadership in our company is built on Jesus’ model of , which means that my goal for the people in our company is for them to be successful in their work and in their personal lives…this kind of leadership requires me to be their servant as well as their leader, which is the kind of leadership I plan to offer in the on behalf of the people of Arkansas.”
Though the fact that he worked so long as a preacher will undoubtedly trouble those liberals who seem to want all evidence of God and religion removed from our society, this would normally play well with the same conservative Arkansans who re-elected the well known Governor Mike Huckabee–former preacher, former presidential candidate, and current Fox News host of Huckabee.
The Coleman campaign is sure to hit some turbulence though, over his divorce in 1993. David Kincade, at The Arkansas Project, says “This probably wouldn’t be a big deal for most people, as it’s kinda common these days, but at the time Coleman was a Baptist minister.” Sixteen years is a long time, but Kincade reports Coleman’s parishioners from way back then are still upset and angry in their emails and comments to his posts. The Tolbert Report refers to the divorce as a possible Hutchinson problem, referring to Arkansas’ former Senator Tim Hutchinson who lost his seat to Mark Pryor in 2002, just three years after he divorced his wife and two years after he married a former aide.
When his divorce was brought up by a caller on the Dave Elswick’s talk radio show, Coleman explained that his ex-wife was one of the first people he notified when he decided to run for office and she told him, “I think you will make a great Senator. I will support you and vote for you.” Even the ultra-liberal Arkansas columnist Max Brantley says the divorce shouldn’t be an issue. He claims he’s examined all the divorce papers and sums the situation up with “… it looked like a regrettably familiar story to me. A marriage ended. New lives were begun.” Coleman told me, “It [the divorce] clearly marks a dramatic change in my life. It was an almost devastating experience for me – but one from which God has taught me so much about His mercy and grace!”
Will conservative Arkansans be willing to forgive and forget when they get to the ballot box? Only time and the campaign will tell.
If Jason Tolbert’s hunch is correct, Coleman will face a challenger in the Republican primary. Jason reports sources close to Tom Cox, founder of Arkansas Tea Party, Inc., say he is also exploring a run for Lincoln’s Senate seat and may use that group’s Rally at the River to formally announce. Hopefully, if that’s the case, the primary won’t become a mud-slinging contest of airing opponents’ dirty laundry. Kincade reports Lincoln already has $2.3 million in the bank for the general election campaign, and it’s almost a certainty she’ll run unopposed in the primary.
If Cox does announce at tomorrow’s event, it should be interesting having two Republican candidates introducing themselves to the public at the same event. So if you’re interested in meeting the candidate(s) who will challenge Lincoln next year, be at Riverfront Ampitheatre in Little Rock tomorrow at 5:30 pm.
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