Party time | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Party time

Posted By on Wed, Nov 3, 2010 at 3:59 PM

Arkansas Republican Party, Doyle Webb, Mark Darr, Mark Martin, John Thurston, John Burris
  • Brian Chilson
  • HERE TO STAY: Webb says he expects GOP gains to continue in future elections.

"Arkansas has entered a new era in our state’s history. Arkansas has realigned and Arkansas has become a two party state."

That's how state Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb started off a press conference held early Wednesday afternoon to celebrate Republican victories in the state and talk about Arkansas's political future. Webb introduced Rep. John Burris, the Republican leader in the state House of Representatives, Lt. Governor-elect Mark Darr, Secretary of State-elect Mark Martin, and newly-minted Land Commissioner John Thurston. Webb said he expected the state's rightward trend to continue in future elections. Burris said he didn't foresee any big shake-ups on the state level. Each candidate pledged to be bipartisan in their approach. Mark Darr, when asked about how exactly he planned to "fight the Obama agenda" from the Lt. Governor's office, said if Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and Governor Mike Beebe failed to do anything about “nationalized health care,” he would file a lawsuit himself.

Video of the press conference and more info on the jump.

Webb said he expected to see Republican gains in future elections as well.

“I think the trend will continue,” Webb said. “I think if you look at our history over the past several election cycles, you will see that the conservative message is the message of the average Arkansan and that message is resonating. The Democratic Party is continuing to move to a more liberal agenda and people are realizing that they are conservatives first, Arkansans and Republicans.”

Burris gave a very measured statement about the party’s legislative agenda for the upcoming session. The number of seats held by Republicans is currently at 44 (Blue Hog Report puts that number at 47).

“I don’t think you’re going to see the Republican caucus come out with some massive overhaul of state government,” Burris said. “That’s not to say we don’t have a big task before us. At this point, it’s about keeping the wheels on the bus. Right now our financial situation is pretty serious. We have to figure out what we want to do. Do we want to do some fundamentally different things with roads or prison systems or schools even? Those are decisions we’ll make down the road. I don’t know if you’ll see us come out with a big platform or not. A lot of that will develop as we continue to go through budget hearings.”

When asked if national issues would be a priority for state Republicans, Burris said that, to the extent that those issues affect Arkansans, they absolutely would. He expressed reservations about the health care reform bill. Darr went one step further.

When asked how the lieutenant governor’s office could be used to stop the “Obama agenda” Darr mentioned in his campaign advertisements, the Lieutenant Governor-elect said he would file a lawsuit to stop Arkansas’s participation in “nationalized health care.”

“I don’t support nationalized health care,” Darr said. “I haven’t beat around the bush about that. Arkansans can’t afford it, it’s unconstitutional and we don’t want it. Hopefully in the coming months we’ll see our attorney general actually step up, and join in a lawsuit against nationalized health care. And if he doesn’t do it hopefully the governor will do it… If those two individuals refuse to stand up for the people of Arkansas, I will fight the Obama agenda and file a lawsuit against nationalized health care.”

It remains to be seen if Darr will follow through on his statement or if state money would be used to file such a suit. There are probably a lot of Arkansans who like the fact they can’t be dropped from their insurance because they get sick or be denied it because of a pre-existing condition.

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