story by Ryan Saylor
With the 2014 general election now less than one year away, announcements have started to roll in from across the region and political spectrum.
In a press release, the Republican Party of Arkansas announced the hiring of Bobby Talbot as state director for the Arkansas Victory Team. The team is a partnership between the RPA and the Republican National Committee.
According to the release, Talbot will oversee get out the vote operations in Arkansas as well as implementing a person-to-person grassroots organizing program.
"Bobby's expertise and experience will be invaluable as we move toward victories up and down the ballot in 2014 and beyond," said RPA Chairman Doybe Webb. "We continue to grow our majorities and are making commitment to have the Republican Party organized across Arkansas. I'm confident Bobby will build a formidable operation."
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus said the party was focusing on not only organizing for Republican gains locally, but also on a national level as the election cycle inches closer to the beginning stages of the 2016 presidential election.
"Heading into 2014, the RNC is on the ground organizing the neighborhoods across the country earlier than we've ever done before," said Priebus. "We are working with state parties and campaigns to build an infrastructure that will help us take back the Senate, keep the House and elect Republican governors, while laying foundation for success in 2016. WIth our historic ground game investments, we're on a path to victory."
One Republican ready to make the jump into state politics is Bentonville City Councilman Bill Burckart, who announced Thursday (Nov. 7) he would run for the state house in District 93. The seat is now held by Rep. Jim Dotson, R-Bentonville.
Burckart served as the chair of the Benton County Lincoln Day Dinner this year, which featured South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) as the keynote speaker. In addition to his positions on the council and the Lincoln Day Dinner, Burckart also owns a construction company in Benton County.
Buckart's announcement comes a day after Rep. George McGill, D-Fort Smith, announced he would seek a second term in the Arkansas House of Representatives.
McGill, a former chairman of the Fort Smith Planning Commission and the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, represents the north side of Fort Smith in the legislature.
In a press release, McGill touts his first term accomplishments of "serving on the State and Public School Life and Health Insurance Program Legislative Task Force, as Vice Chairperson of the Planning City, County and Local Affairs Committee, member of the House Public Transportation Committee, Arkansas Veterans Home Task Force and the Public Transportation and Rail Subcommittee."
The retired insurance agent also touted sponsoring "a bill to assist Fort Smith with election filings, helped secure more (than) $1million for the U.S. Marshals Museum, was instrumental in having the Arkansas Economic Development Team visit Fort Smith and was an active leader in protecting funding for Higher Education throughout the state."
No opponents have yet announced for McGill's District 78 seat.
In District 76, Republican Mat Pitsch of Fort Smith is running his second race for the seat after losing in a primary to now-term limited Rep. Denny Altes.
Pitsch said in a press release that he was focused on economic development should be be elected.
"A successful legislator will focus on the most important thing(s) to his constituents. The Economic Development news lately has not been positive and we need to create an environment where we are capable of competing for those Economic Development Opportunities. These opportunities should be in a multitude of industries – Manufacturing, Tourism, Transportation/Logistics, Education, Research and Development, Medical, etc."