Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The fierce race for Arkansas's 4th District

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2012 at 6:51 AM

TOM COTTON: His resume gets a workout from critic.
  • TOM COTTON: His resume gets a workout from critic.
I wrote yesterday about Mike Huckabee's endorsement of Beth Anne Rankin in the Republican primary race for 4th District Congress over Tom Cotton and John Cowart. He took aim at Cotton, who decamped Arkansas after high school 17 years ago and returned only a year or so ago to seek a congressional seat. He's the best financed candidate in the race, thanks to D.C. and eastern support.

My item drew a rare compliment from an anonymous reader on the Republican side of the fence. The reader, a Rankin supporter, contributed a further analysis of Cotton's resume. It picks at the military credentials Cotton has touted as well as his education at elite institutions and his newfound interest in farming. It also appeals to regionalism within the district. These angles could be productive; but they also carry an obvious potential for backlash. Comparative evaluation of military service is particularly risky business. Service is service, even most in the military will say. Some people, me among them, don't resent those who choose Harvard or Claremont for advanced education.

I pass it along to give you an idea of what's bubbling just below the surfaces in this hard-fought race.

BUT FIRST: Talk Business has just published results of polling in this race. Dead heat between Cotton and Rankin — 38.5 to 38.5 in a survey of 542 likely Republican primary voters. Cowart at 4 percent. 19 percent don't know.

ALSO: GOP candidates will debate in event staged by Young Republicans at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hot Springs Convention Center.

FROM A READER:

In comparing dates and information in Tom Cotton’s biography posted at his website with comments made in his TV commercial and in printed campaign literature, then looking at John Cowart’s and Beth-Anne Rankin’s backgrounds, not “picking cotton” is looking better and better. Or, as we phrase it, keep your Cotton pickin hands off of the Fourth District. This is what I mean:

“Tom felt the call to serve his country in uniform following the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center” but he didn’t join the Army until ALMOST FOUR YEARS LATER. In the period between when Cotton graduated law school (June 2002) and when he joined the Army on January 11, 2005, almost 200,000 other brave men and women joined the Army and Army Reserve and can truthfully say they “joined after 9/11. The number rises to 800,000 up until last September according to Army Recruiting Command statistics.

He brags on being an “Army Ranger” but after completing Ranger training was NEVER assigned to a Ranger unit. His more than honorable six months service in Iraq was with the 101st Airborne, and nine months in Afghanistan was with a civil affairs unit. I am told the usual tour for Army guys is one year. Conversely, John Cowart served with the Marines in the mid-East during in the Gulf War, as an infantry company commander in Iraq, and just returned from serving in Afghanistan. Like Cotton, Cowart is a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal but never mentions his military exploits.

In trying to figure out why Cotton embellished on perfectly respectful military service, we figure it’s to detract from all of the back-East campaign contributions and lack of real work experience. Not to fret fellow Arkies, if he gets elected we will have one of “the best Congressman money can buy.”

Not only did Tom Cotton attend a “snooty Ivy League school” he avoids mentioning attending very expensive (i.e. $33,353 one year’s resident tuition) Claremont Graduate University (outside of Los Angeles) in between graduating Harvard and entering Harvard Law School. Tom’s daddy must have deep pockets.

Cotton left Arkansas for his “snooty Ivy League school” in 1995, and with the exception of family visits he only returned after leaving the Army in October 2009 to be “drafted” to oppose Blanche Lincoln. After testing the waters, Cotton beat a hasty retreat, or as Ranger Tom’s slick media boys would spin it, advanced in the opposite direction back to the safety of the Beltway to work as a lobbyist [I think the correct term here is corporate consulant]. He now returns to Arkansas after a 17-year absence wanting to represent the Fourth Congressional District where he never before lived, worked, and certainly has not held a job to put food on the table or pay a mortgage. Cotton’s Arkansas law license, obtained in April 2003 while he was clerking for a Federal Judge in Houston, is inactive.

Cotton also did not challenge Tim Griffin for Vic Snyder’s open House seat in 2009 when his family residence was in the Second District. [Note that there is no district residency requirement for congressional candidates.] Conversely, Cowart did not step up to the plate and join Rankin in challenging incumbent Mike Ross for his seat in 2010. They left it up to the feisty red head from deep in the Delta to carry the Republican banner. Lastly, it’s interesting to note, in the event Tom Cotton were elected, none of Arkansas’ U.S. Representatives will reside South of I-40 which should be a major concern to voters in the majority of Fourth District counties making up the Delta Region.

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