Favorite

Brantley: The Democrats' last hurrah 

click to enlarge Mike Ross image
  • Mike Ross

I've said before that 2014 is the deciding year for Arkansas Democrats.

More erosion through electoral losses and the Republican Party will be solidified as the majority party in Arkansas for years to come. The notion that a Hillary Clinton candidacy could somehow turn that around in 2016 is wishful thinking.

The time to hold and gain ground is now. Or never. So which is it?

Republicans naturally think never. President Obama may not be on the ballot, but his unpopularity is considered a tonic for Republicans at every level, Gov. Mike Beebe's big victory in 2010 notwithstanding.

Democrats have some cause for optimism, even from seemingly problematic recent polling by Roby Brock's Talk Business and Hendrix College.

Those polls: U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor led Republican Rep. Tom Cotton 42-41. Republican gubernatorial candidate Asa Hutchinson led former U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, a Democrat, 41-37.

That's good? No. But it could be much worse.

Pryor is still in the lead, for one thing, if nominally. (And a national poll conducted for a Republican super PAC released later showed him with a three-point lead.) Polls showed everybody beating U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln for re-election and she gained barely a point despite millions of campaign spending. For another thing, some 20 percent of respondents detest Obama but aren't necessarily ready to vote for Cotton. Pryor's best weapon is his opponent — a billionaire-financed extremist who proclaimed that a government shutdown and debt default might be good for what ails the United States.

In the governor's race, Asa Hutchinson, with universal name recognition, can only score 41 percentage points? It's not really surprising for someone who's lost three statewide races and is saddled by a problematic name thanks to misdeeds by his brother Tim, the former senator, and nephew Jeremy, the current state senator, not to mention his own misbegotten persecution of favorite son Bill Clinton during impeachment.

I think the polls are a stark comment on Arkansas's current political atmosphere, rather than candidate referenda.

The yellow dog Republican base is 41 percent; the Democratic base a bit less. That means about 20 percent of the electorate will decide these two races after a good $25 million or more in wall-to-wall TV. Do they retain some Democratic tendencies? Or have they moved with the rest of the South to today's Dixiepublican Party?

I'm realistic about Democratic chances. But a strong Democratic field at all levels could help. Ross is working hard to recruit legislative candidates. Pickup possibilities exist in a state House where Republicans have only a one-vote majority. Pryor will top the ticket with a familiar name, still warmly remembered among important older voters.

James Lee Witt, Bill Clinton's famous FEMA director, may launch a 4th District congressional bid. Former Rep. Linda Tyler of Conway and former North Little Rock Mayor Patrick Henry Hays, who enjoys broad and positive name recognition, may run in the 2nd District against extremist Republican Rep. Tim Griffin, who followed through on a threat to close down government if he couldn't kill the Affordable Care Act. He's never carried Pulaski County, where he lives.

Democrats have some hope that all this activity at the top of the ticket could yet encourage a strong challenger for Republican Rep. Rick Crawford in the 1st District, once a Democratic stronghold.

A well-financed Democratic ticket with big names and depth offers the party hope to reverse recent trends. If it fails, the future is bleak for many years to come.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The assault weapon open line

    The open line. And report of the arrest of a man with an AR-15 who threatened to shoot people at a Springdale business.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A primary challenger for Rep. Laurie Rushing

    Blue Hog Report has some news on a Republican primary challenge of an incumbent legislator, Rep. Laurie Rushing, by Ernie Hinz of Hot Springs.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • A common-sense gun measure draws no sponsors from Arkansas

    Republicans, including at least one from Arkansas, are talking about repealing the Dickey Amendment which prohibits gun research from a public health perspective. But none of them are yet willing to DO anything about it.
    • Feb 17, 2018
  • More »

People who saved…

Readers also liked…

  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017
  • Along the civil rights trail

    A convergence of events in recent days signaled again how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in civil rights.
    • Jan 18, 2018
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.
    • Jan 18, 2018

Most Shared

  • In the margins

    A rediscovered violin concerto brings an oft-forgotten composer into the limelight.
  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.
  • Arkansans join House vote to gut Americans with Disabilities Act

    Despite fierce protests from disabled people, the U.S. House voted today, mostly on party lines, to make it harder to sue businesses for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act. Of course Arkansas congressmen were on the wrong side.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Love, Ark Blog

    Things you might have missed if you don't read the Arkansas Blog.
    • Feb 15, 2018
  • Police problems

    Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner's surprise emergence as a candidate for a higher-paying job in a smaller city (Charleston, S.C.) is a commentary on the fraught relationship of police with the Little Rock community and a city government structure in need of change.
    • Feb 8, 2018
  • Lock him up

    To no one's surprise, Republican state Sen. Jake Files of Fort Smith entered a negotiated guilty plea Monday in federal court to bank and wire fraud and money laundering charges.
    • Feb 1, 2018
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

February

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  

Most Viewed

  • Donald Trump is historically unpopular — and not necessarily where you think

    My colleagues John Ray and Jesse Bacon and I estimate, in the first analysis of its kind for the 2018 election season, that the president's waning popularity isn't limited to coastal cities and states. The erosion of his electoral coalition has spread to The Natural State, extending far beyond the college towns and urban centers that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. From El Dorado to Sherwood, Fayetteville to Hot Springs, the president's approval rating is waning.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Out of control

    • And Olphart - hey, That is a witty reply - good for you!

    • on February 17, 2018
  • Re: Out of control

    • Oh for god's sake - read the play - just read the play before going…

    • on February 16, 2018
  • Re: Out of control

    • Aloysius, Not even a large man with a bodyguard detail acting in a way intended…

    • on February 16, 2018
 

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation