Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why Blue Dog Mike Ross Will Lose His Run For Arkansas Governor


The ad above was released 3 days ago by the Republican Governors Association. It's an unadulterated attack ad on Mike Ross, the Democratic Party candidate for governor of Arkansas, who is running against extremist GOP sociopath Asa Hutchinson. I don't care who wins because both candidates are the worst garbage American politics has to offer. I suppose a lesser of two evils argument could be made in favor of Ross, but, given his virulently reactionary and anti-working family record when he was in Congress, that would be a stretch. Ross was one of the leaders of the Blue Dogs and-- when it came to the crucial, values-driven issues that define the Democratic Party-- he voted with the GOP. A raging homophobic asshole, Ross is also an anti-Choice fanatic (even voting against contraception!), a complete NRA shill (one of the only "Democrats" to get an A+ for them), against healthcare for the working class and a paragon of repulsive Beltway corruption. It makes no sense that he's a Democrat and it never has. But that ad above isn't going to lose him his race.

The ad is how Republican zombies react to Blue Dogs. To them, a reactionary like Mike Ross is the same thing as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Alan Grayson or Keith Ellison. In other words: NANCY PELOSI!. In 2010, Blue America tried showing them how to actually beat Blue Dogs. Instead of lying, just tell the truth. When you tell the truth about Blue Dogs, discouraged Democratic voters don't go to the polls. In 2010, the worst Blue Dog in Congress was Bobby Bright of Alabama. He was even worse-- though just fractionally-- than Ross. And his own campaign ads were vehicles for attacking Democratic Party goals and… Nancy Pelosi herself. Like this one:

The DCCC wasted millions on Bright, who was going to jump to the GOP if they won a majority and he was reelected. Blue America made sure he wasn't reelected. We ran a huge TV and radio campaign in the bluest parts of AL-02. The stupid, incompetent Republicans hadn't figured out how to beat him. They're busy calling him a Nancy Pelosi pawn in the white suburbs of Montgomery, where he-- and his reactionary politics-- are quite popular. So Blue America decided to point out his record to some other of Bright's constituents. We began a massive, targeted radio and TV campaign in just 4 counties, the 4 counties where Barack Obama did best in 2008, the 4 counties most badly effected by Bright's anti-family votes, the 4 counties that make it hard for a Democrat to win district-wide without landslide victories: Lowndes, Bullock, Barbour and Butler. When the African-American precincts in and around Montgomery were gerrymandered into the 3rd CD, the 2nd was left as a hopeless Republican bastion. It's a freak of nature that even a throwback Democrat as far to the right as Bright could have ever won the seat. He won it 144,368-142,578... but with massive support from the African-American voters in Lowndes, Bullock, Barbour and Butler counties, voters whose interests he has consistently ignored since being elected. Obama only won 36% of the vote in Alabama's 2nd CD but he won landslides in Lowndes County (5,447 to 1,807) and Bullock County (4,001 to 1,389) and ties in Butler and Barbour counties. This is the ad some local actors made for us:

With 217,777 votes cast, Bright won 106,455 (48.9%) to Martha Roby's 111,322 (51.1%). We were able to depress his vote in the 4 counties crucial to Democratic candidates. Below is a comparison of the votes Bright got in each of these candidates when he won in 2008 and when he lost in 2010:
Lowndes- 5,667 (79%) in '08 and 3,874 (74%) in 2010
Barbour- 6,889 (61%) in '08 and 4,822 (59%) in 2010
Bullock- 4,203 (79%) in '08 and 2,980 (77%) in 2010
Butler- 5,601 (59%) and 3,878 (55%) in 2010
He would have been reelected if he got the same percentage of support in those counties in 2010 that he had in 2008. And that was done just by telling the truth about his record. Instead of doing that in Arkansas, the Republican Governors Association is playing their same idiotic single note marching song against Ross: he's Nancy Pelosi! Run for your life! Arkansas voters aren't that stupid. Friday, called them out on their lies, pointing out that their numbers are inflated and that the RGA ignored votes Ross cast in favor of the massive 2001 Bush tax cuts, several votes to permanently bury the estate tax, and to permanently extend the Bush cuts for low- and moderate-income taxpayers.
The ad from the Republican Governors Association began running June 18, calling Ross’ campaign promises to cut state taxes “all hogwash.” Ross promises to phase in lower income taxes and to phase out the state’s business tax on partial replacements and repairs of manufacturing machinery and equipment. But the RGA’s narrator says, “Ross voted with Nancy Pelosi over 80 times against taxpayers. … No wonder Ross received an ‘F’ from the National Taxpayers Union.”

…Our quarrel here is with the tired, old trick of padding vote counts on taxes. We called it “tax tally trickery” when John McCain’s campaign tried it against Barack Obama in 2008, and we started debunking this sort of claim a decade ago, when President George W. Bush used it against John Kerry, his 2004 Democratic opponent.

In this case, the RGA’s “ad verification” lists 85 votes that Ross cast during his 12 years in the House (out of 8,570 roll call votes recorded by the House clerk during those years). Very few of them would have actually raised taxes on anyone, and some would have actually cut taxes.

We’ve gone over all 85 votes listed, and we find the total to be padded because:

Forty-six were purely procedural votes. For example, the very first vote listed is against a parliamentary motion to bring to a vote a proposed House rule to set terms of debate for what became the 2001 Bush tax cuts. (Not mentioned is that Ross was one of only 28 House Democrats who later crossed party lines to vote in support of final passage of those cuts.)

Fifteen of the votes were on non-binding budget resolutions that set targets for revenue and spending, but would not have had any direct effect on tax law.

Only 16 of the votes favored measures that would have raised taxes. These included:
Seven votes on measures to raise taxes on tobacco products to fund the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (including votes for a failed attempt to override President Bush’s veto of the Democratic measure in 2008, and multiple votes for the 2009 measure that President Obama signed soon after he first took office.)
Seven votes on amendments to increase taxes only on couples making $1 million or more per year. All of these were Democratic proposals that would, for example, have provided an extra $1 billion to spend for anti-terrorism security measures, or to increase spending for education, health and other Democratic priorities. All of these were offered when Republicans were in the majority, so none had any hope of passage.
Two votes on Democratic measures to raise taxes on oil and gas companies to fund renewable energy subsidies. These included his vote for the House version of the 2007 energy bill, which was signed by President Bush after the Senate stripped out the oil-and-gas tax increases, and his 2008 vote for another energy measure that died in the Senate.
…The RGA ad also spins by omission. It fails to mention, for example, that Ross went on to vote for permanent repeal of the estate tax after the Democratic alternative failed. He was one of only 41 House Democrats to do so. And he also voted for permanent repeal in 2005 and 2006, votes also not mentioned in the RGA analysis.

And we’ve already mentioned Ross’ support for the 2001 Bush cuts. Padding the list of “against” votes with procedural and non-binding votes, while ignoring votes cast in favor of tax cuts, gives a distorted picture of Ross’ record.

The ad’s narrator makes the claim that “Ross and Pelosi voted for higher taxes on families and small businesses.” Our advice to viewers is to ask, “Which families?”

It turns out, according to the RGA’s own ad verification, that only very high-income families would have seen higher taxes. The RGA lists seven votes in 2003, 2004 and 2005 for Democratic proposals to scale back the Bush rate cuts for individuals making over $500,000 a year, or in some cases over $1 million a year.

None of these would have fallen directly on “small businesses,” but profits from many small businesses flow through to the owners’ personal income tax returns. In those cases, only those with profits of $500,000 or $1 million (depending on the amendment in question) would also have been affected.
For those keeping score, every single poll has shown Hutchinson beating Ross, by an average of 5.7%. The most recent PPP survey has Ross down the most, losing to Hutchinson 46-38%. Democratic Senate incumbent Mark Pryor us beating Tea Party challenger Tom Cotton in the same survey and when asked if they approve or disapprove of Democratic Governor Mike Beebe’s job performance, 62% of Arkansas voters say they approve and only 22% disapprove. He's one of the most popular governors in the country. But the voters are smart enough to have figured out that the reactionary Ross is not Mike Beebe.

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At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Edward said...

FWIW, Bobby Bright was a good mayor, especially compared to his predecessor. That's how he won the first time( he started a bidding war between the Repubs and the Dems when deciding which party to run under). He was a horror in Congress. Voted against Lilly Ledbedder even though she was from Alabama. But the Dems kept giving him money to run. So when it was time for re-election, he just proved the old adage, "Given a choice between a Republican and a Republican, the people will vote for the Republican every time." And he deservedly got his ass kicked. As did Artur Davis. Haven't really heard from either of them since. Haven't missed either for a second.


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