Bill Clinton nourishes his Arkansas roots to help Democrats in 2014 | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Bill Clinton nourishes his Arkansas roots to help Democrats in 2014

Posted By on Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 7:33 AM

click to enlarge THAT OLD TIME RELIGION: Can Bill Clinton's long history here still turn out the vote for Democrats?
  • THAT OLD TIME RELIGION: Can Bill Clinton's long history here still turn out the vote for Democrats?
The New York Times' Jonathan Martin writes at length for the big Sunday paper about the amount of time Bill Clinton is spending in Arkansas and the attention he's giving to helping old political friends like Mike Ross, the Democratic candidate for governor, and U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor.

I don't see how the popular former president's efforts can hurt any Arkansas political candidate. But Mark Pryor himself raises a fair point:

Those who follow politics closely here are uncertain how much sway the former president still has with voters.

Mr. Pryor argued that the legacy of Mr. Clinton’s policies is what is most powerful.

“People are very proud in our state that President Clinton balanced the budget,” he said. “President Bush didn’t, President Obama hasn’t.”

But even Mr. Pryor acknowledged that he was uncertain what campaign appearances by Mr. Clinton would mean.

“I don’t know if that translates into votes in our state,” he said, noting that Arkansas was “very independent-minded.”

Lots of Arkansas angles in the story, plus this scrap of news.

And it is not just the top of the ticket that Mr. Clinton and his loyalists are following. The Southern Progress Fund, a group formed to revive Southern Democrats and run by two Arkansans who are former aides to Mr. Clinton, is quietly preparing to put money into state legislative races here and will have two paid staff members on the ground early next year.

Here's more on Southern Progress, led by former Mississippi Gov. Ronnie Musgrove. Staffers include George Shelton, who says he's been working for Bill Clinton since his 1974 congressional campaign, when Shelton was four years old. Executive Director Amanda Crumley also worked in the Clinton White House.

The on-line version of the story has much more than the print version carried in the Democrat-Gazette this morning. The Times was given photo access to a private event for presidential library volunteers last Thursday night. There's a photo album of Clinton in Arkansas through the years and a three-minute video in which Doe's Eat Place, Mike Ross, Mike Beebe and Roby Brock make appearances, among others. Ross talks about a long session with Clinton on political strategy.

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