The U.S. Senate race shapes up — deja vu all over again | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The U.S. Senate race shapes up — deja vu all over again

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 7:34 AM

THE ELDRIDGES: Conner Eldridge opened his Senate campaign with a sunny, bipartisan news release. Republicans are having none of it. And liberal Democrats will have to gulp a bit, too.
  • THE ELDRIDGES: Conner Eldridge opened his Senate campaign with a sunny, bipartisan news release. Republicans are having none of it. And liberal Democrats will have to gulp a bit, too.

I never could talk to Conner Eldridge yesterday about how he'd handle the inevitable Republican Party cookie cutter assault on his Democratic candidacy for U.S. Senate against Sen. John Boozman, but some details emerged in his talks with others.

The Republican Party's response to Eldridge's candidacy was as familiar as it is tiresome: Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama, Obama, Obamca, Obama. Oh, and also, Obama.

Are they right? Is hatred of the black Kenyan Muslim so intense that the mantra will doom all Democratic candidates again in 2016 and forever, even after he leaves office? Sad commentary on Arkansas voters if true.

For his part, based on Democrat-Gazette and AP reporting Eldridge:

* Decried the Iran nuclear deal. No word if he'd join a Democratic filibuster on an up-or-down vote.

* Avoided, with AP, the question of whether he'd have voted for Obamacare. He  took the position that we should mend it and not end it. In Republican orthodoxy, only a vote for repeal counts (even with Gov. Asa Hutchinson,  who has his fingers crossed behind his back when he says this because he desperately needs the Affordable Care Act money.) Eldridge did praise the private option implementation of Medicaid expansion in Arkansas.

* Said he opposed abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of a mother. No mention of grave fetal abnormalities, sometimes discovered at a late stage in pregnancy — a time when Republicans are pushing for legislation or constitutional change to prohibit abortion no matter the reason. If Planned Parenthood came up, I didn't see it mentioned. Doyle Webb will.

* He avoided a simple declaration for the equal rights of all men and women by answering the gay marriage question by saying it has been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court and it's time to move on. Republican orthodoxy begs to differ. Move on? Tell it to Kim Davis.

The general election is still 14 months away, but Republicans intend to soften Eldridge up early with your usual mindless sneer campaigns. For his part, Eldridge, a former employee of once-Sen. Blanche Lincoln, will strive to reach that centrist position that served his former boss so well. (Sarcasm intended.)

If he really wants to emulate Mike Beebe he could schedule a public meeting with Stonewall Democrats and tell them, sorry, but same-sex marriage is just wrong. He'd also do well to strap on a pistol and walk up and down President Clinton avenue with some of the gun nuts on one of their strapathons.

I'll have more good ideas in the weeks ahead.

I know. I know. All the geniuses say Democrats must run to the right to have any hope of winning in Arkansas. The more liberal end of the base just has to suck it up. Lincoln's bare escape of Bill Halter in the Democratic primary six years ago shows that enthusiasm does matter, however. It's a tough balancing act, as Lincoln learned. Her play to the center left her with even less than the thought-to-be-guaranteed 40 percent Democratic base. Eldridge, at least doesn't have a voting record, including one for Obamacare, as Lincoln did.

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