Favorite

Big bucks, evil ads for Pryor-Cotton race 

Given much of a chance to know them personally, any Arkansas voter would almost certainly like both Mark Pryor and Tom Cotton well enough to vote for them, although perhaps not with a lot of excitement.

Not many ever get the chance for more than a casual and fleeting encounter with the people who would represent them; but now, thanks in part to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, they are apt to make their decisions based upon an even more capricious factor — a malignant image of both as cunning men bent on harming you and your values.

Campaign advertising, always tacky, has been getting meaner and more prolific every season, but nothing has come close to the Pryor-Cotton campaign or the campaigns in other battleground states like North Carolina, Georgia, Colorado and Alaska, which have never seen money in such multiples dumped into congressional campaigns.

The Arkansas Senate race will set all kinds of records but in ways that should not make anyone proud. Although the real campaign presumably doesn't begin until Labor Day, the money spent on media advertising for and against the two candidates already exceeds the record spent in the long 2010 campaign when Sen. Blanche Lincoln was buried in part by a blizzard of attack ads. The Phillips County farm girl was characterized as the puppet of the Muslim-loving socialist president.

Arkansas has already set one record that isn't likely to be matched. By mid-July, 21 separate groups had bought TV commercials attacking one or the other candidate, mainly Pryor. A handful of corporate-fed groups like Americans for Prosperity account for much of the money behind the attack ads across the country, including Arkansas, but the sheer number of outside groups investing in the Arkansas race sets it apart.

A representative of Kantar Media, the marketing research firm that monitors media spending on congressional elections, said 21 groups was an "unbelievable" number, far surpassing any other state, and that it was more surprising because Arkansas is a smaller, poorer state than most battleground states.

A rich Little Rock industrialist learned last month from the media that the ads in which he criticizes Pryor were actually paid for not by a small-business group, but by a lobbying arm of the insurance industry that wants to remove insurance taxes and consumer protections in the Affordable Care Act — Obamacare.

They have starkly different life narratives — the shy, aw-shucks Pryor, who never evidenced a political doctrine except to emulate his dad and push the government to help people, and the earnest and driven Cotton, whose sterling Ivy League schooling vested him with a burning zeal to turn the country into the libertarian utopia that Ayn Rand dreamed of, where government does not interfere with markets and the important work of industrialists or do favors for the unaccomplished and unmotivated of society.

It is not hard to support either man or oppose the other for his political record—Cotton for his nearly unwavering opposition to almost any government activity outside war or Pryor for voting for some Democratic programs but wavering on others. But it would be hard to hate either man for what he has tried to do with his life or his earnest motivations, including Cotton's boasting about his military record and Pryor's testaments to his deep religious impulses.

But hatred and fear are the goals of millions of dollars of TV and online ads by corporations and independent groups that were liberated by the Citizens United ruling, which said Congress could not place monetary limits on their right to destroy politicians who earn their disfavor.

Pryor in the ads is a lackey doing the bidding of the socialist black president instead of taking care of Arkansans, and Cotton is set on taking food from the mouths of the poor or aid from the thousands whose lives are wrecked by hurricanes, tornadoes and floods. There is real hatred in the letters to newspapers about the two men and behind the shaking fists of drivers who spot the wrong bumper sticker.

Although more outside groups are investing in the Arkansas Senate race, the state actually lags other battleground Senate states in the sheer volume and in some cases the viciousness of the independent campaigns. Overall TV spots at this point are 70 percent higher than in the last midterm election, in 2010. The number of TV spots from outside groups in Senate races is nearly six times the number in 2010. More ads ran this summer alone, through mid-July, than the whole two-year election in 2010. More than $33 million has been spent in the North Carolina Senate race.

The biggest PAC backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, Cotton's main supporters, had poured $44 million into congressional races by mid-July and they had barely begun. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has pitched in big. Democratic congressional PACs have tried to keep pace with attack ads against Republicans but they've fallen short.

Party loyalists are unfazed, as always, by the attacks, but swing voters who ordinarily pay scant attention until the election are swayed. The best you can hope for is that most will be sickened by the display and search on their own for a ray of honesty.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Mark Pryor, Tom Cotton

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Ethics upended

    Every week, Donald Trump finds another way to upend conventional ethics in government and politics. Here's one that has been in the making since the campaign but is reaching maturity in the Russian investigation: He is turning the heroes of government scandals into the villains.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • The ACA can be fixed

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened his 51 disciples in the Senate and his party with the gravest injury imaginable.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Pay attention

    • Bravo brother.

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • As always, a lot of what happens in the name of Jesus has nothing to…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • And I quote, "It makes complete sense that a God who favors a man who…

    • on July 19, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation