2010 Republican Senate Race Heats Up in Arkansas
Big things are happening in the Republican race for US Senate in Arkansas. Blanche Lincoln’s poll numbers are falling like a rock and even the liberal blog DailyKos is now calling on her to resign. According to The Tolbert Report though, Lincoln’s organization doesn’t seem to be making preparations to throw in the towel. Instead it appears to be digging in for what promises to be a difficult campaign. Even though three of her potential GOP challengers by double digits at this early stage, it appears Lincoln plans to gut it out.
Here’s a rundown on the GOP field as it currently stands.
The already crowded field will take one more player next week when Jim Holt formally announces his candidacy. From Arkansas Watch
Former State Senator Jim Holt, who led the GOP ticket in the 2006 statewide elections, will announce his candidacy in the 2010 U.S. Senate race at a series of events to be held January 14th.
Holt took 44% of the vote in his 2004 loss to Sen. Blanche Lincoln the last time she ran for re-election. Some are tagging him the best chance to beat Lincoln after her vote for Harry Reid’s health care bill last month. That vote, combined with the general hostility to the Democrat Party, has many predicting Holt can fare much better in November than he did six years ago
Holt’s announcement may cause some Republicans in the state to rethink their positions. Many, like Bill Vickery, have been calling for other candidates to clear out and permit State Senator Gilbert Baker to preserve his cash and energy for a general election slug fest with Senator Lincoln. Vickery says “If the Republican Party doesn’t clear the field and make Gilbert Baker the lone nominee, then we are foolish.”
Most consider Baker the favorite in the race for now though. After his first place finish in the Republican Party of Arkansas’ straw poll last month, and his double-digit lead over Lincoln in the latest Rasmussen poll, Vickery’s not the only one who’s tagging Baker the man to beat in this race.
Though Vickery and others have placed their bets on Baker, central Arkansas businessman Curtis Coleman isn’t showing any signs of throwing in the towel. Coleman remains active on social networking sites and continues to travel the state meeting voters. He continues to hammer away at Lincoln and tackle issues on his blog and has recently added several new members to his campaign team.
Recently, Coleman announced the appointment of Matt Lagrone as his campaign’s statewide Political Director. “I am delighted to have Matt help direct our statewide grassroots efforts. He is an experienced political professional and committed conservative who wants to change the way things are done in Washington,” Coleman said. And today announced the addition of Mike Hudome as media consultant for the campaign.
Last month the campaign started with a flurry of press releases demanding Lincoln address several issues, including insulting comments by high ranking Democrats in Arkansas and union attack ads against Gilbert Baker which included the publicizing of his home phone number. Reynolds’ campaign demanded Lincoln abandon the secret negotiations to honor President Obama’s previous calls for transparency in the health care debate.
Then the campaign went almost silent the latter half of the month after his campaign manager, K. Ryan James, announced he was stepping down to pursue other interests. We’d seen little activity in the news and on social networking sites where Reynolds had been active.
But the Colonel informs us he simply took a little time off and has no intention of bowing out of the race. He assures us he has a busy January planned, including Joe the Plumber coming in later this month to campaign for him. Reynolds also says, “You will notice a slight shift in priorities over the next few weeks — a strategy that I believe will win me the primary.”
Fred Ramey continues to travel the state and says “We are finding that a blue-collar conservative candidate with a sincere desire to make a difference for all Arkansans is exactly what many people want.” Ramey remains convinced his blue-collar background and farming experience can beat Blanche Lincoln in the general election.
He admits he had hoped the candidate field would have narrowed by now, but says the campaign is making inroads. Not that he thinks the competition is a bad thing. In fact, he reiterates his committment to running a positive campaign and states that if the other candidates do likewise “this will strengthen the party’s hand now and in the future.”
Kim Hendren points to his lead over Lincoln in the latest Rasmussen poll and claims others show him leading the GOP primary. His committment to the race was recently demonstrated when he pumped $200,000 of his own money into the campaign. Pointing to the fact that some of the money his competition has raised cannot be used in the primary, Hendren says his campaign cash gives him the advantage.
Hendren states he’s developing a solid volunteer organization across the state, and says he’s “especially honored to have state party vice-chairman Duane Neal serving as one of my key supporters and advisers.”
He also tells us the campaign will soon announce upcoming fundraisers in Central Arkansas on February 4 and Northwest Arkansas on February 6.
Buddy Rogers tells us he has no plans of throwing in the towel either. He’s continuing to travel the state with upcoming events scheduled across the state. Rogers says his varied background in business, health care, and the military is resonating with voters. He says he’s “gratified by increased name recognition and support as I travel the state.”
We were unable to contact Tom Cox for this article, but will include an update on his campaign as soon as it’s available.