Do sheriffs matter | Arkansas Blog

Friday, September 1, 2006

Do sheriffs matter

Posted By on Fri, Sep 1, 2006 at 4:05 PM

Brummett wrote this week about the importance of Mike Beebe lining up the support of 68 of the 75 county sheriffs in the race for sheriffs. Republicans scoffed.

The Hotline, which enjoys some influence nationally in the political realm, sees it as Brummett does, in tandem with Georgia.

Curious as to why a place like Georgia seems to be trending so strongly towards the Republicans while a state like Arkansas remains a Dem bulwark against a strong GOP tide in the rest of region?

The below press releases are helpful in explaining, in part, why two red, Southern states remain very different politically. They are also instructive as to why Dems are favored to regain the governor's mansion in Little Rock, but not given much of a chance in Atlanta.

Gov. Sonny Perdue (R), the first GOP governor in the history of his state, crows about picking up the endorsement of 76 of Georgia's county sheriffs, 37 of whom are Dems. Two days later, AG/GOV candidate Mike Beebe (D) touts support from 68 of his state's sheriffs, all of whom are Dems.

Why the big deal? Because it reflects the larger state of political affairs in each place.

As Georgia elects more Republicans up and down the ballot, the last bastion of rural Dem strength, the so-called "courthouse crowd," becomes more comfortable crossing party lines and publicly stating their support for statewide GOP candidates. ...

Arkansas, regional anomaly that it is, offers a different scenario. An elected official for nearly a quarter-century, Beebe is a known quantity among state and local pols. Having held a state senate seat for 20 years in north-central Arkansas' White County, Beebe represents the rural strength Dems still enjoy in Arkansas. The county sheriffs there are still 90% Dem and, despite 10 years of a Republican in the governor's mansion, would not consider crossing party lines to support the GOP candidate for governor. For a host of reasons, Arkansas, despite its conservative bearing, has resisted embracing the Republican party. So with a courthouse crowd -- the bench -- that has stayed loyal to the Dems, the Legislature remains firmly in the grip of the party. And with a Dem-dominated Capitol, the political giving from the close-knit business community continues to flow to the Dems -- sustaining the cycle.

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