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Open season 

GOP candidates take long shots, throw elbows.

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With a national eye turned to just about every race in Arkansas, the campaigns and the rhetoric are starting to heat up. Here, some examples of the best and worst political maneuvering from the GOP side so far, from the Arkansas Blog.

• Rep. John Boozman made local and national headlines when it was revealed that the would-be Republican nominee for the 2010 Senate race was the most traveled of the Arkansas congressional delegation. Boozman and his wife racked up $900 per day on a trip to Germany. The Democrat-Gazette reported that Boozman also traveled to the Africa and the Middle East, “with stops in Afghanistan, Cape Verde, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ghana, Qatar and Rwanda. The trip was paid for by taxpayers, out of an account reserved for members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.”
Sen. Gilbert Baker's campaign was quick to pounce on Boozman's own version of seemingly wasteful spending with this statement.

“‘When I am US Senator, I will be visiting places like England, Paris, and London, ARKANSAS to continue to be responsive to the people of this great state,' Baker said.

Good one.


• Speaking of Baker, the state senator's campaign deftly launched a new website this week called “Baker Ball,” where supporters and NCAA basketball fans can submit their Final Four picks. According to a press release, “every day there will be tournament poll questions, analysis and commentary from sports writers and you can follow my bracket predictions!”

On the surface, it looks pretty harmless, a way to engage the less politically active in another activity that, like politics, no one can agree on. At its core, it's just another way for the campaign to collect email addresses – and a pretty good one at that. Around every office in the country, people are working out their brackets, putting money down on the office pool and hoping to win big. A win in Baker's pool and you'll be able to shoot hoops with the candidate himself. Second place wins an autographed basketball.

When asked about the site, Gabe Homstrom, senior advisor to the Democratic Party of Arkansas, says simply, “Welcome to politics.”

“Each election season, every advisor and consultant comes up with a new way to attract voters' attention,” Holmstrom says. “There are so many ways for a voter's time to be occupied and this is just another way to reach out.”


• Tim Griffin's campaign for the second congressional district seat has all the honesty of a Hollywood studio advertising its movies.

On Tuesday, for example, the campaign sent out this quote from a Pat Lynch column that appeared in the Democrat-Gazette on Monday: “Republican Tim Griffin is running the best organized and most professional campaign in recent memory. He gets out to garden clubs, sewing circles and veterans groups all over Central Arkansas. ... He exudes confidence, and this kind of momentum will be hard to stop.”

And what was omitted in that passage where the ellipsis appears? Lynch wrote: “For a guy who does not have a lot of firsthand experience in the local culture [Griffin is a very recent arrival to the 2nd District] he is well advised in the art of retail campaigning. He is running as if he has already won the election.”

So, as Lynch indicated, Griffin is a politically presumptuous carpetbagger and a cynical creation of the dark Republican political arts. But there's more to say about Griffin. Lynch said it several paragraphs later, though this passage, too, didn't appear in the Griffin blast e-mail: “Griffin is such a shameless clone of Karl Rove, and an outsider, that I am almost softening on [Scott] Wallace.”

Here's a quote for Griffin to cherry pick: Liberal columnist Max Brantley of the Arkansas Times said: “There is only one word for the dishonesty of Tim Griffin — stunning.”

I think you know where to stick the ellipsis. Coming soon to an e-mail near you.

And it's only been a little more than a week since the filing deadline.

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