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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fighting for partisan control of the Arkansas legislature

Posted By on Sun, Sep 9, 2012 at 7:38 AM

WORKING TOGETHER: Gov. Beebe on need for bipartisan cooperation.
  • WORKING TOGETHER: Gov. Beebe on need for bipartisan cooperation.
Stephens Media provides today its take on the tough and personal advertising battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of the 2013 legislature.

As ever, Gov. Mike Beebe sounds the pitch-perfect middle ground.

Beebe, who said there are some Republicans he gets along with and some he does not, said he hopes voters understand that politics can be bruising, but that they also want elected officials to work together after the election.

“I think what is getting lost in all this is that regardless of all the outcomes of these races, it’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that the relative split in the General Assembly is going to be close to 50-50, and so that is going to require a significant amount of working together because most appropriation bills, for example, take much more than a simple majority to get them passed,” the governor said.

If the Legislature does not work together, “whoever is identified as not working together will suffer, in my opinion, the wrath of the voters the next time around because Arkansans just despise what is going on in Washington,” he said. “They just despise it.

Can this appealing message work in a world where Republicans are counting on hatred of Barack Obama and hot button issues from gay marriage to abortion to demonize Democrats?

The Stephens article contains an inkling that Republicans have at least some respect for the power of Beebe's appeal. It comes in a quote from Rep. Nate Bell of Mena, a reactionary Republican, enmeshed in the Koch-funded attack machine that is going to spend a million bucks to elect bomb throwers into the majority. You need not follow Bell long to know how rigid his beliefs on everything from evisceration of the tax base to end of environmental regulation. When he says the following, you may be sure he doesn't mean it (former House leader John Burris was just remarking to me Friday about his certainty that a Republican majority would move swiftly and fully to deliver on issue after issue with which I and many moderates disagree). But, for now:

Bell said that, if he wins, putting aside partisan hard feelings after the election may be difficult, but not impossible.

“I think all of us in the public arena, on some level, understand that we still have the responsibility to govern, even with people that have made it very personal,” he said.

Bell, a legislator who refuses to even take questions from critics, has demonstrated no understanding of this to date. You think it will change if he's in the majority? Put down that bong.

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