Fourth District Congressional Democratic candidate Q. (Quincy) Byrum Hurst may have been late to the game, but he’s putting a campaign team together that might explain why national Republicans have singled him out in recent attacks.
Hurst, a Hot Springs attorney, didn’t announce his plans to seek the Democratic nomination for the Fourth District seat until the last week of filing in late February.
He and two other Democrats — State Sen. Gene Jeffress of Louann and former U.S. Senate candidate D.C. Morrison of Little Rock — are seeking their party’s nomination to challenge the winner of the GOP primary.
Three Republicans — Tom Cotton of Dardanelle, Beth Anne Rankin of Magnolia and John Cowart of Genoa — are vying for the Fourth District GOP nomination. Cong. Mike Ross, D-Prescott, is retiring from the seat he has held since elected in 2000.
Hurst has hired Nicole Dorris as his campaign manager and she has also been handling early fundraising responsibilities in advance of hiring more staff, says John Whiteside, Hurst’s general consultant who served as Joyce Elliott’s campaign manager in 2010.
Dorris has helped Hurst raise six figures in her three weeks on the job, according to Whiteside.
“In a little more than three weeks, she has been the catalyst that has transformed the Hurst for Congress campaign,” Whiteside tells Talk Business. “She arrived to a campaign that was scrambling to make up for a late start. A campaign that was only managing to take baby steps towards raising the funds needed to run an effective campaign in a district as big and as diverse as Arkansas’s 4th District. Yet, Nicole rose to every challenge. In three short weeks, the campaign has surpassed the $100,000 fundraising mark.”
Whiteside said Hurst will report having raised “north of $105,000″ during March on his quarterly report due later this month. He expects the campaign to have about $95,000 cash-on-hand as of the end of March.
Neither of Hurst’s Democratic challengers, Morrison or Jeffress, are expected to post strong fundraising numbers for the quarter. Morrison ran his Senate campaign in 2010 on a shoe-string budget and Jeffress has eschewed fundraising saying it won’t be a focus of his candidacy.
Nicole Dorris comes to the Hurst campaign with experience in fundraising at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and a Washington, D.C.-based technology political organization, known as TechNet. She also worked last year for the Congressional campaign of retired Assistant U.S. Navy Secretary John Douglass, who is making a bid to unseat a first-term Republican in Virginia. Additionally, Dorris cut her teeth in campaign management and fundraising in the 2006 election of Jon Tester of Montana.
“I honestly think she is a rising star in southern politics,” said Whiteside. “Since her arrival a few days before St. Patrick’s Day, Nicole willed this campaign forward to reach a fundraising goal I felt was almost impossible. The campaign not only reached that fundraising benchmark, we exceeded it. Nicole Dorris has been a game changer for the Hurst campaign and we are grateful to have her on our side.”
Dorris and her DCCC background may explain why the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has singled out Hurst in email challenges at least 6 times since March 26.
The emails ask if Hurst supports the Obama administration’s energy, economic and health care policies.
“With the government takeover of healthcare having its day in court today, Q. Byrum Hurst should say whether he will join his fellow House Democrats who have been the biggest cheerleaders for their deeply unpopular law,” NRCC Communications Director Paul Lindsay said in an email last week on the first day of the U.S. Supreme Court hearings.
Whiteside said with Dorris on board, Hurst is gearing up to run “an aggressive and effective campaign on the ground and on the airwaves.”
He said the campaign is in the process of lining up a team that will include media, polling, research and phone banking expertise.
Arkansas’ Fourth Congressional District primary and general elections will be hotly contested, as our recent analysis suggests. Democrats recruited long and hard for a candidate that they hope can keep the seat in the “D” column. Several Democratic candidates that were mentioned often for the seat declined after months of speculation.
Republicans feel that the seat now leans GOP and they say their candidate field reflects more than one strong candidate. Nationally, Republicans consider the seat ripe for takeover and are expected spend resources in the district to win the race this fall.