Gov. Mike Beebe (D) understands the stakes of a Republican-controlled House and Senate, and he's using his political influence to help Democratic candidates in key legislative races.
Our content partner, The City Wire, reports that Beebe will be in Van Buren on Friday (June 15) to attend a fundraising rally for Rep. Tracy Pennartz (D-Fort Smith).
It’s not the first political event for Beebe of the political season, and it will likely be one of many as he attempts to use his popularity to prevent Republicans from capturing one or both chambers of the Arkansas Legislature.
Pennartz, term-limited in the House seat, is running for Senate District 9 — a region that includes parts of Crawford, Scott and Sebastian Counties. She will face Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, who defeated Rick Green in the GOP primary.
Arkansas Republicans believe they are in position to capture both houses in the 2012 election cycle. To gain 5 new seats in the House and just 3 in the Senate would give Republicans control of both chambers for the first time in modern political history.
The Arkansas legislature now has the smallest margin of Democratic rule since Reconstruction. House Democrats outnumber Republicans 54-46, while the State Senate has a 20-15 Democratic advantage.
Beebe is not interested in dealing with what could be an energized Republican machine during his last two years in the Governor’s office. He’s betting some of his popularity and influence will prevent Arkansans from voting a straight Republican ticket.
During a mid-March poll by Talk Business and Hendrix College, 64% of Arkansans approved of Beebe’s job performance. In the question on Beebe, 83% of Democrats approved of his job performance, 66% of self-described Independents supported him, and slightly more than 50% of Republicans polled said Beebe was doing a good job.
“Since 2007, I have worked with Governor Beebe to balance the state budget, advocate for economic development, improve public safety, and help to ensure a sound educational foundation for our kids,” Pennartz said in the statement released Thursday (June 14). “I have always made people my priority over any political agenda! … I know it's tough right now. We need stability in our economy so businesses can commit to creating jobs.”
Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Beebe, tells Talk Business that the Pennartz event is one of many the Democratic Governor is participating in.
“We're taking the invitations and requests as they come. He's been to a few already. I think Rep. Pennartz will be the 10th that he's attended,” said DeCample. “He's said all along that he's going to help raise money in legislative races and will continue through the summer.”
DeCample said that all of the invitations to help have come from Democratic legislative candidates.
“We have not received any from any Republican candidates,” said DeCample.
Michael Tilley with our content partner, The City Wire, contributed to this article.