Can the Kochs buy a U.S. Senate seat for Tom Cotton? They're trying. | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Can the Kochs buy a U.S. Senate seat for Tom Cotton? They're trying.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 2:33 PM

click to enlarge FIGHTING BACK: Groups friendly to Democrts are fighting back against the Koch onslaught for Republicans.
  • FIGHTING BACK: Groups friendly to Democrts are fighting back against the Koch onslaught for Republicans.
The Washington Post reports on Arkansas as ground zero of the nuclear battle by financial titans to purchase control of the U.S. Senate for Republicans. The Koch political forces have spent at least $1.4 million already on misleading ads targeting Sen. Mark Pryor and put ground forces in the field. Democrats say they'll fight back.

And still Rep. Tom Cotton, Pryor's Republican challenger, is so weird that he can't break away in opinion polling.

The Kochs have spent $30 million in swing Senate races this year. And that's just chump change. Here's that stunning Pro Publica article on the nearly $400 million the Kochs spent on elections in 2012, a pittance of which gave them solid control of the Arkansas Senate.

But back to the Washington Post. It reveals the Kochs have already poured $500,000 into Arkansas legislative races this year in hopes of mopping up after the move to a Republican majority in 2012. If you hate Obama you'll love the Kochs' message. Lots do, apparently.

The Koch/Republican combine thinks it's stolen a page from Obama in Arkansas.

AFP also thinks that, at least in Arkansas, they've got the left beat at the Internet game. Cline says, "If you look at what the left has been able to accomplish with social media, in Arkansas, we are significantly ahead of the folks on the other end of the political spectrum from ourselves, and it's noted by everyone." Tim Phillips, the organization's president, notes that their "data folks" have been instrumental in choosing where to canvass. And they've now focused all this might on fighting the Affordable Care Act and the Democrats in Arkansas who supported it, Mark Pryor getting special attention. And after failing to stop the "private option" Medicaid expansion from getting passed in the conservative state legislature in April 2013, they're itching for another victory. Turning out those voters who already are sympathetic to their messaging is key.

I hope that they confuse preaching to the choir with a successful social media game. A lot of their effort is backslapping each other and repeating themselves over and over to fairly small audiences. I don't know how much salesmanship is necessary, however, to get the word out that a black man with a funny name is in the White House and trying to give poor people medical care.

The article does say Democrats will spend and organize to match and not just in the race for U.S. Senate, but the overarching message starts there.

The Arkansas Democrats seem set on borrowing some of the tactics the DSCC has used on the national level with their "Addicted to Koch" campaign. "It's not a stretch to say that Cotton owes his political career to these outside groups," Burgwinkle says, "and it's clear he's rewarding them with his votes." In their "Too Reckless for Arkansas" campaign, they mention that he was the only Arkansan to vote against both forms of the Violence Against Women Act and the farm bill. The party ran an ad in Arkansas last week that focused on the trips — paid for by groups like Club for Growth, the American Enterprise Institute and Conservative Action — that Cotton went on over the course of his term. The envelope filled with $300,000 worth of checks that Cotton received in 2010 from Club for Growth is another favorite factoid of the Arkansas Dems. The DSCC is also likely to mention the Cotton-Koch connection once they get to Arkansas. DSCC spokesman Barasky used a line similar to Burgwinkle's when talking about the race, "The best way to combat the Koch brothers is to show that Tom Cotton serves the Koch brothers' interests. Not Arkansans."

The Cotton Doesn't Care website illustrated above is a pretty good roundup of Democratic talking points.

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