Earlier this week, former Democratic First District Congressional Candidate Tim Wooldridge endorsed Republican incumbent Cong. Rick Crawford. Some on the liberal left were quick to write this off as irrelevant due to Wooldridge's strong conservative leanings.
In one sense, I can see where they are coming from. I would certainly be an equally harsh critic of a liberal Republican endorsing a Democratic candidate. However, there is a reason that this is a big deal for this election.
Although he does carry some sway, by no means does the entire population of Democratic voters follow Wooldridge for how they should vote. Instead, Wooldridge is representative of how conservative Democrats may vote
It is important that this endorsement is not for President, but down the ballot for Congress.
Conservatives in Arkansas that have traditionally voted Democrat for the sake of… well… tradition have also broken with this for their votes for President (which the exception of hometown boy Bill Clinton). But this year, these conservatives may finally vote for the Republicans down the ballot – a trend that started in 2010.
If there is a silver lining for Democrats, it is that Wooldridge is heading up a group called “Democrats for Rick Crawford.” In essence, he is encouraging Democrats to cross party lines to vote for a Republican this year and not yet leading a mass exodus to switch parties.
Even so, what Wooldridge represents is an even bigger deal than the endorsement.
The Democratic party has been able to hold power in Arkansas by pulling in a big tent made up from far left liberals to socially conservative moderates. If the conservatives leave permenantly, they will have a hard time ahead of them.