Favorite

The third-party threat 

Democratic U.S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln faces an uphill re-election fight against Republican challenger John Boozman, but it's made tougher still by the presence of Green Party candidate John Gray.

If you believe the polls, Boozman's lead over Lincoln is so substantial that a marginal vote for the Green Party won't matter.

I still believe the margin will narrow, however. Boozman, unexciting personally, is a doctrinaire Republican. In today's political climate, that means he votes against just about everything — health care for the poor, benefits for the unemployed, measures to protect our air and water, government support for a wide variety of job-stimulating projects.

Lincoln's voting record is a mixed bag, but it's certainly friendly to Arkansas's agricultural community. She's friendlier to women's rights than Boozman, despite some latter-day waffling on abortion rights. Generally speaking, her voting record is more progressive than, say, U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. She's a moderate. Boozman is not.

Lincoln will defeat Boozman soundly in major urban areas. Whatever their dissatisfaction with Lincoln — and there's plenty — black voters aren't likely to see Boozman as a suitable alternative. Name the issue important to minority voters and he's on the wrong side.

So let us be optimistic and believe the race between Lincoln and Boozman will be close. The balance of power, as ever, will be with moderate voters. The winner will build a coalition of moderates and voters from either end of the spectrum. That's where the Green Party could be devastating to Lincoln. It could cut into votes from the progressive end of the scale, voters who aren't likely to support Boozman.

A Green Party candidate took more than 20 percent of the vote against Mark Pryor in 2008, but he had no Republican opponent. Their statewide candidates have frequently posted double-digit totals. Some of this vote is motivated by idealism and Green Party principles. More of it, I think, is a None of the Above vote, an expression of dissatisfaction with the two ruling parties.

I understand the sentiment. I just happen to think it is suicidal politically. The case in point is the 2000 presidential election. Yes, a full recount would have given Al Gore Florida and the election had not the U.S. Supreme Court truncated the recount process. But take Ralph Nader's votes out of the equation and Gore would have won Florida and the presidency without controversy. The ensuing eight years were a heckuva price to pay for Green voters' principles.

A similar attitude is much in evidence in ongoing discussions on the Arkansas Blog. Many liberals there are simply too disgusted with Blanche Lincoln (think labor, environment and estate tax issues) to vote for her. I feel their pain. But I part company when they think that election of a truly poisonous alternative like Boozman will somehow "wake up" the electorate for wiser decisions in the future.

If the Green Party candidate gets 10 percent of the vote, John Boozman will laugh his way into the U.S. Senate and he'll be hard to dislodge. Those votes of principle will be cold comfort when John Boozman votes against Green Party voters on every single issue.

Maybe the thing to do is hope that a fourth Senate candidate, Tea Party follower Trevor Drown who is running as an independent, will catch fire and siphon votes from Boozman on the right. An election decided by the middle could go to Lincoln. I'm afraid, however, that the right is more disciplined than the left.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Comments (18)

Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-18 of 18

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • The cost of the health bill: Arkansas is a loser

    Another analysis says Arkansas, contrary to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's assertions yesterday, would be a big loser under the pending legislation to kill Obamacare.
    • Sep 20, 2017
  • Jimmy Kimmel: Health bill flunks 'Kimmel test'

    Jimmy Kimmel gave an extended rip of the Graham-Cassidy health bill last night saying Cassidy had lied to him when he said he wouldn't back health legislation that didn't pass the "Jimmy Kimmel test." That is, no family should be denied emergency health care if they couldn't afford it.
    • Sep 20, 2017
  • The long shadow of Paula Jones looms over Donald Trump

    The Daily Beast reports that the precedent set in allowing Paula Jones to sue then-President Bill Clinton now holds peril for Donald Trump.
    • Sep 20, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

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

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Aid politics

    The still-unfolding catastrophe in Houston is, first, a human tragedy. But when politicians try to tell you that a time of enormous human tragedy is not a time to talk about politics, it likely means the politics are embarrassing to them.
    • Aug 31, 2017
  • Save the statues!

    The Democratic Party of Arkansas has called for relocation of Confederate monuments from public places, such as courthouse squares and the Capitol lawn, to history museums or private grounds.
    • Aug 24, 2017
  • Charter secret

    These are hard times for those who believe in traditional public schools, run by democratically elected representatives, open to all on equal terms.
    • Aug 17, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

September

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

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • I am very glad to see a lot of women running for government positions in…

    • on September 19, 2017
  • Re: Time for a coalition

    • Since Hillary's book has come out, the Hillary Bashers have starting ranting again. My thoughts:…

    • on September 19, 2017
 

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