Arkansas-- The Most One Party State Of 'em All
This clown should be defeated-- but not because the Arkansas Establishment doesn't respect women
Monday, Politico's Josh Kraushaar reported how one of the Senate's most conservative Democrats, Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, is in trouble back home. That might sound like sweet music to the ears of anyone supporting Blue America's Campaign For Health Care Choice, which has been running cable TV ads highlighting Lincoln's duplicitous stand against health care reform. And, indeed, our campaign may have had some impact on helping to wreck her approval ratings. However, the danger to Lincoln is coming from even further to the right, though still within what is loosely considered the Democratic Party. The state's Senate President, Bob Johnson, is as reactionary as they come. Were he ever elected to the Senate he'd not only be more of a Republican than Lincoln (or Pryor), he'd give Ben Nelson a run for his money in who crossed the aisle most frequently. To borrow a phrase, what's wrong with Arkansas?
Obama didn't even break 40% of the vote there last year; it was his worst performing state of the Old Confederacy. And yet the governor, both U.S. Senators, 3 of it's 4 House members and the leadership in the state legislature is all Democratic... kind of. Kind of, because Arkansas politics aren't really like the politics anywhere else in America. And Arkansas Democrats-- or at least the Arkansas Democratic establishment-- aren't what we think of as Democrats anywhere else in America. Let's come back to Blanche in a moment and turn to John Brummett, a perceptive columnist for the Arkansas News. He defines the state’s political establishment as "a loose alliance of business and farm interests that encompasses lobbyists and legislators and former legislators... most comfortable when working in a conservative Democratic structure." Also sexist in a way that most states outgrew around the turn of the century-- two centuries ago.
Mike Beebe, Mike Ross, Mark Pryor, Marion Berry-- these are nice fits with this establishment, which can’t abide the national liberalism of Democrats or the Obama White House. But, at the same time, this establishment has never managed a cultural connection with Arkansas Republicans such as the Hutchinsons.
Lately these lobbyists and legislators and former legislators have been talking among themselves about how Lincoln appears to be in trouble. They like her on farm subsidies and estate taxes, but, gosh, it’s just bad luck that puts her up for re-election while a president of her party is uncommonly unpopular in Arkansas. To make matters worse, her party is attempting to change health care in a way that scares the heck, albeit irrationally, out of lots of people.
There’s a bit of gender unfairness in these calculations, I regret having to say.
So these lobbyists and legislators and former legislators have been talking about how it might be that the safest way to deal with Lincoln’s vulnerability would be to run against her in her own primary from the right with an establishment Democratic guy.
Brummett goes on to point out that Johnson "is only nominally a Democrat " and that he has close ties to the trans-party corporate and business interests that really run the show in Arkansas. He emphasizes that Johnson "is as conservative fiscally and culturally as most any Republican" and that he has helped Republicans fundraise, in a way that reminds actual Democrats of Joe Lieberman's treacherous activities on behalf of Republicans nationally. And, like Lieberman, Johnson is both a hypocrite and abysmally corrupt.
Now back to Blanche. I'm encouraged that Trevor Drown is running as an independent and that the Green Party, which is stronger in Arkansas than in most states-- mostly because the Democratic Party isn't always a friendly place for activism, populism or progressive ideas-- plans to announce a candidate for the Senate this week. The GOP has 5 pathetic, unelectable bumbling extremists competing for the religious fanatics, KKK die-hards and zombie-like teabaggers that now make up the Arkansas Republican base. As for Johnson, just to give you an idea of what kind of a senator he would make, he's already started campaigning by using the GOP playbook, hysterical that unlike Lincoln, he would not be a '"functionary" of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi or Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. There's a lot of crap you can say about Blanche-- and we do-- but a "functionary" of Nancy Pelosi? We should only be so lucky!
If you'd like to see the 3 Blue America TV spots we're running in Arkansas-- or donate to our health care reform campaign aimed at that state's voters-- please visit our campaign site.
UPDATE: Arkansas Voters Prefer Limbaugh To Obama
In case you have any illusions about Arkansas, a new poll from Public Policy Polling, out today, not only shows that Arkansas respondents have a low regard for President Obama and his health care proposals but that "they think Rush Limbaugh’s vision for America is superior." Less than a third of the voters approve of what they imagine his health care proposal is (killing granny, coddling illegal immigrants, forced abortions, zombies, etc). Only 45% of Arkansas voters believe Obama was born in America. PPP forgot to ask them if they believe Hawaii is part of the U.S.
When asked whether they think Obama or Limbaugh has a better vision for the country, 55% of respondents selected Limbaugh in spite of the fact only 35% of them have a favorable opinion of him, compared to 44% unfavorable.
“These numbers, taken together, show why Blanche Lincoln’s Senate seat is becoming an enticing target for Republicans in spite of their candidate recruitment issues,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “There are few states that have an electorate more conservative than Arkansas’ and if the GOP can effectively nationalize the race it’ll be close."
And now the Senate part of the poll has been released as well and it doesn't look good for Blanche, even with PPP ignoring the strong independent challenges Arkansas' one-pary/two-branch system is facing.