Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Final Arkansas election notes

Posted By on Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 6:23 AM

Final notes on the voter-shunned runoff elections last night:

1stmap.JPG
* FIRST CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: A big win for state Rep. Clark Hall of Marvell in Phillips County narrowed the margin substantially, but Jonesboro Prosecutor Scott Ellington still finished with a 51-49 win.

Hall gave a gracious concession. Republicans chortled about Ellington's lack of money. Republicans also seem ready to pin the release of the West Memphis Three on Ellington, who indeed signed off on the plea deal that left them guilty of three murders but free men. Ellington can make a persuasive case for his decision in that case — if voters want to listen. The weight of the state's poor case against the men finally had built to the point that it was leading to their outright freedom. Ellington, a late arrival to the case, decided to preserve a verdict and prevent the state from executing a man wrongfully convicted with the aid of apparent jury impropriety. It's not a slam-dunk issue for Republican Rep. Rick Crawford, so it will be interesting to watch it play. Maybe filmmaker Peter Jackson will help Ellington, a decision that could cut both ways.

The map shows how the district divided, with the deep Delta for Hall (dark green counties) and the critical areas around Jonesboro and Paragould for Ellington. Crawford's spotty record gives Dems a lot to work with, such as this already out this morning from the party:

Even though Congressman Rick Crawford (AR-01) district received 63% of all subsidies to Arkansas farmers, Crawford voted for over $30 billion in cuts to essential agriculture programs for Arkansas farmers which has threatened the prospect of this year’s essential farm bill. The USA Rice Association said that they were “troubled” by the proposed cuts and American Soybean Association called the proposal “worrisome.”


* FOURTH DISTRICT: Outspent 7-1 or so, Sen. Gene Jeffress of Louann easily bested Q. Byrum Hurst 61-39 with his low-key grassroots effort, helped by Hurst's troubles with the tax man and legal regulators over some slipshod practices in his law office. Jeffress thanked oddball D.C. Morrison, a primary opponent, for his help in the runoff. Sigh.

Jeffress now faces Washington, D.C.'s Tom Cotton in the fall. The Republican will come in Brinks trucks full of special interest money from Washington and New York. He issued a statement last night urging a civil campaign "focused on solving America's debt crisis, repealing ObamaCare and saving Medicare, and promoting economic growth and job creation through tax and regulatory reform. Arkansans want and deserve a principled debate on these critical issues."

Yes, let's focus on issues. Cotton would dismantle Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, making them shells of the bedrock programs that have lifted millions out of crushing, even killing, poverty. He'd create jobs by giving millionaires still more years of unproductive tax cuts. He promises that jobs will come from ignoring environmental controls and allowing industry to poison our air and water from lack of regulation. Yes, let's have that debate.

Note that a Democrat won Rep. Gabby Giffords' old seat in Arizona in part by hammering an opponent who derided Social Security as a Ponzi scheme and showed the same disregard for the existing Medicare system that Tom Cotton shows.

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