Today, The Arkansas Election re-evaluates the First Congressional District primary races and concludes there is a small momentum shift among Democrats and Republicans.
The Arkansas Election Line, a collaboration between Talk Business, The Tolbert Report and Blake’s Think Tank offers our consensus and individual analyses of significant political races this election season.
- In the Democratic primary, The Arkansas Election Line moves the race from "Toss-up" to "Leans Wooldridge."
Since our first rating in this race, we have learned from both public and private polls that Tim Wooldridge has a stronger name identification than his opponents. He begins from a stronger starting point than the other candidates in the race.
Wooldridge also had a competitive quarter of fundraising in the first quarter, which compliments his advantage.
That said, I believe this race is definitely headed to a run-off. Chad Causey and Steve Bryles seem the most likely challengers to compete for a run-off spot with Wooldridge and neither should be underestimated. They are both making moves.
David Cook’s candidacy could also be a factor in the race. He’s likable and good on the stump and he’s unabashedly Democratic in his positions. His life story is compelling, too, and he has registered slightly above Causey and Bryles in earlier polls.
Having seen all of the candidates (Democratic and Republican) first-hand in a debate performance in Lonoke last week, I can say that I was impressed with nearly every candidate. District voters have plenty of good choices and I hope they will analyze their picks carefully.
I expect Wooldridge to lead the ticket based on the reasons listed previously as well as the fact that he ran so competitively in this district in 2006. The other challengers in the field are chasing Wooldridge at this time, but he by no means has a lock-cinch on this nomination. However, conditions are trending favorably for him at this juncture of the campaign, thus the "lean" designation.
The dynamics of a run-off will be a whole new animal. I look forward to re-assessing this race on May 19th.
- In the GOP primary, The Arkansas Election Line moves our rating from "Leans Crawford" to "Safe Crawford."
I will be shocked if Rick Crawford is not the Republican nominee. He has performed well on the stump, organized his campaign carefully over the last several months, and had his most successful quarter of fundraising after the announced retirement of Rep. Marion Berry and the entry of a primary opponent, Princella Smith.
Smith has a strong presence on the campaign trail, but she came late to the game and has not raised enough money to combat those disadvantages.
Crawford is clicking on all cylinders and will be a formidable challenger for the Congressional seat this fall.