There has been some noteworthy news over the past week in the First Congressional District race, both on the Democratic and Republican side.
First, some news from the Democratic nomination race.
Over the weekend, Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington received the endorsement of the Arkansas AFL-CIO, which represents roughly 30,000 workers across the state. Unions are not particularity strong in the First District, due to its agricultural-based economy, but the endorsement will likely bring money from national sources that will help Ellington’s campaign.
State Rep. Clark Hall was also in contention for the endorsement, but by not receiving the endorsement, it tells me the AFL-CIO wasn’t happy with his voting record in the State Legislature.
Last Wednesday, I broke the story on Twitter that Democratic candidate Gary Latanich had parted ways with his campaign manager, Peter Grumbles. On Friday, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette went deeper and found that Latanich had lost his entire staff over the issue on the direction of the campaign.
Latanich told the Dem-Gaz he wasn’t pleased with the negative tone his campaign had taken after sending out attack press releases against one his opponents, Clark Hall. While Latanich had approved the releases, he apparently had a change of heart.
Latanich is a long-shot candidate for the nomination, but insiders tell me he was not being well-served by Grumbles’ haphazard management style. In the article, Grumbles foolishly told the Democrat-Gazette that he didn’t think Latanich had the mettle to be a good candidate, thereby breaking a basic political operative rule: when you leave a campaign over a strategic disagreement, go out with class, wish the candidate well and keep criticism to yourself because future employers will note how you exited.
While the staff turnover won’t change Latanich’s long-shot status, maybe the new direction will allow him to run a race he can be proud of.
Incumbent Congressman Rick Crawford made some news over the weekend, and by doing so made it clear to voters his word is now officially mud.
In his 2010 campaign, Crawford signed two pledges: a “No Tax Hike Pledge” and a “No Pork Pledge.”
As you recall, Crawford recently proposed a new tax, thereby breaking his word, and one could reasonably argue that he lied to First District voters by breaking his pledge which said he would oppose ANY tax increase.
In Sunday’s Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Crawford said he was now reconsidering his position on the signed “No Pork Pledge” created by the Citizens Against Government Waste, where he promised not to request any “pork-barrel earmark.”
However, Crawford said Sunday, “Constituents expect their congressman to bring back as many federal dollars as they can. I’m only one voice in a very large geographic area. We’ve kind of hit a brick wall without the ability to earmark projects.”
Translation: Bring on the pork!
Crawford’s actions have taken the game of signing campaign pledges off the table for 2012. For example, if one candidate attacks another for not signing some pledge, the attacked candidate can just point out Congressman Crawford’s broken pledges, how silly they are and not worth the paper they’re printed on.
Rick Crawford has shown he has no core principles and is willing to break his word at the drop of a hat. Moreover, Crawford has just given the eventual Democratic nominee more fodder for negative ads on how Washington has changed him.
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