Sunday, September 23, 2012

The fight for partisan control of the legislature

Posted By on Sun, Sep 23, 2012 at 6:47 AM

OUR KIND OF LEADER: Arkansas GOP legislators loved Rick Perry. Will you love them in the majority at General Assembly?
  • OUR KIND OF LEADER?: Arkansas GOP legislators loved Rick Perry. Will you love those same lawmakers in the majority at General Assembly?
Stephens Media rounds up the essential talking points in several of the key House and Senate races that will determine partisan control of the Arkansas legislature in the fall.

The races listed are not the only ones in play by any stretch. Both parties are well-financed and the Republicans enjoy an advantage by heavy spending by the Koch billionaires' Americans for Prosperity and the shadowy 60 Plus organization. Other "independent" organizations (read secretive) may yet emerge. And not quite so secretive. Republican Rep. Terry Rice, who'll be speaker if his party can take over the House, shook down lobbyists recently for money for his "leadership PAC" to spend on races of people he hopes will vote for him in return for his friendship. Lobbyists are under heavy and less-than-nuanced pressure from sitting Republicans not to contribute to Democratic candidates. Hardball is being played. Stakes are high.

Can big, secret out-of-state money buy a corporatist legislature in a historically populist state? The answer, in the end, depends on the voters. Will they vote their interests or those of the moneybags?

Predictions? Got none. Going to be close. I've had consultants I respect on both sides insist their party will wind up with control. Republicans are buttressed at the outset by evidence that Arkansas is joining Dixie's red tide, enhanced by the proven anti-black-man vote here. It gives Republicans a generic edge in polling, which they now believe is solidly entrenched down the ballot.

PS: If judgment matters, I'd remind you that 20 Arkansas Republican state representatives signed on enthusiastically to the presidential candidacy of Rick Perry. Remember Rick Perry? Story about his ill-fated run in NY Times today from a reporter who covered Perry.

I am not making light of the fallout from the nominees’ recent gaffes. They surely have incurred — or will incur — a political cost.

The point is that, having covered the Texas governor’s botched presidential campaign from mid-August 2011 through mid-January 2012, I have witnessed the birth of a whole new level of faux pas. Think of it as the political equivalent of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. The Super-Gaffe, if you will.

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