Any Arkansas Republican Can Beat Dems in November
by John Allison III, editor
Today, Rasmussen released their latest numbers in the race for Arkansas’ US Senate seat. And though the well known polling company doesn’t include every GOP candidate in the crowded primary field, the picture looks grim for Democrats hoping to hold onto Blanche Lincoln’s seat.
And the most interesting thing about the numbers is that it looks like it doesn’t matter who the Republicans run. Of the five GOP candidates included in the Rasmussen poll, all have a 20+ point lead on the incumbent Democrat. Of course, Lincoln must first get past a primary challenge by Democrat Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter. But Halter “runs only slightly stronger than” Lincoln in the Rasmussen poll.
It appears the race is the Republican Party’s to lose.
That means we can move beyond the question of most import in a typical election year. That question– “Who is most capable of beating the Democrat?”–doesn’t really matter if ANY GOP nominee can win.
The question now becomes, “Who (and what type of candidate) will be best for Arkansas and the country?”
Should we nominate an experienced politician, or an everyday Joe? Do we want a candidate who pays for his ads with Washington money, or with contributions from disillusioned voters across Arkansas? Will we nominate a candidate with a proven record of raising taxes, or voting for taxpayer funded bailouts? Or will we dare to be different and nominate a candidate who hasn’t been groomed to fit into the DC establishment?
I’ve been following the race since June of last year. That’s when I first heard we had a conservative candidate who would challenge Senator Lincoln in the general election. It was when President Obama and Democrats in the Legislative branch still had the wind at their backs, when they could seemingly pass any piece of Socialist legislation their Marxist hearts could dream up.
Most of the front runners in the race today were still lurking in the shadows then, ambivalent about stepping up to the plate. Though state Senator Gilbert Baker had been courted by the Republican establishment to run as early as March 2009, he waited to enter the race until September, after the raucous town hall meetings that greeted Democrat legislators when they returned to their districts in August of last year. Former Arkansas state Senator Jim Holt joined the crowded field in January and Boozman jumped in last in February of this year. Randy Alexander hasn’t held political office before, but waited until January to enter the race.
Until then, a mostly different crop of Republicans had announced their intent to take a shot at Senator Lincoln. Curtis Coleman, Fred Ramey, Buddy Rogers, Colonel Conrad Reynolds, Tom Cox, and state Senator Kim Hendren were all campaigning before the latecomers joined the fray. Rogers and Cox have since dropped out, but the rest are still battling for the nomination.
Baker, Boozman, and Hendren are all professional politicians while Holt served five years in the Arkansas legislature. Holt ran against Lincoln in 2004 and lost, but the political environment was far different than that in which we find ourselves today. But none of these professional pols chose to run against Mark Pryor in 2008, and other than Hendren, none chose to enter the 2010 race until it was clear Lincoln’s chances were slim. This leaves one wondering, “Would any of these three have entered this race if Lincoln had NOT been weakened by the TEA Party, the radical Obama agenda, and their inexperienced GOP opponents who stood up to the Senator before polls showed her vulnerable?”
Only Hendren and the others were willing to take the big leap, before Lincoln became hamstrung by the conservative awakening now known as the TEA Party movement. Coleman, Ramey, and Reynolds each bring a unique experience to the table.
Arkansas Republican Assembly (ARRA) President Patrick Briney pointed out some of the weaknesses and strengths of the candidates the other day. Briney’s analysis makes clear that political experience may not necessarily be a plus in the general election.
He explained that Baker and Boozman have supported tax increases in the past, and that Boozman’s vote for TARP likely won’t sit well with most conservatives in the state once it becomes well known. Briney even goes so far as to say a vote for Baker is “a vote for the party line not conservative principles.”
While he credits Holt for his “record of being uncompromisingly committed to conservative values,” he also considers it a liability that Holt has previously lost races to both Lincoln and Halter. Briney says Hendren also has a conservative record, but refuses to sign a pledge to vote against any new taxes.
Alexander has a long career as a housing director for universities, most recently for the University of Arkansas. He states on his website this is pretty much equivalent to running a business, and not like a “typical government job.”
Coleman is a central Arkansas businessman who has battled the regulatory minefield constructed by professional politicians. It consists of obstacle after obstacle that stands in the way of start up companies hoping to do business in the US.
Ramey hails from an eastern Arkansas farm family and now drives a truck for Federal Express. How long has it been since you’ve heard of a blue collar worker running for Senate on the Republican ticket?
Colonel Reynolds is a combat veteran. A 29-year career as an intelligence officer with a top secret security clearance means it’s unlikely he has skeletons in his closet that can be pulled out by Democrats in the general election. That same career indicates he’ll be attuned to the needs of our nation’s veterans and familiar with concerns of the international community.
At a 1st Congressional District GOP event in Walnut Ridge earlier this year, Reynolds told the audience “If you don’t want a professional politician this year, that eliminates half the candidates in this race.” Coleman once told me, “If TEA Party participants aren’t careful, their going to end up without a dog in this fight.” I’ve often heard Baker say he’s the man because he can raise the money to beat Blanche.
Though all the Republican candidates are professing strong conservative values as they traverse the state in search of votes, there are clear differences in their experience and background. But today’s poll numbers indicate whoever the GOP nominee is, he will likely be headed to Washington after November.
Barring a miracle, the winner of the May 18 Republican primary will be the next Arkansas Senator.
Therefore, Arkansas voters need to take this primary seriously and choose the BEST possible candidate to not only defeat the Democrat nominee, but the BEST possible candidate to stand up for Arkansas’ conservative values and work to uphold and defend the US Constitution.
May 18 IS the election that matters this year.
So please learn about the candidates, decide who you think will best represent Arkansas, vote in the GOP primary and choose the BEST man to be Arkansas’ next Senator.
Tags: Blanche Lincoln, Bill Halter, Curtis Coleman, Conrad Reynolds, Fred Ramey, Randy Alexander, Gilbert Baker, Kim Hendren, John Boozman, Jim Holt, US Senate, Election 2010, Democrats, Republicans, GOP
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