The City Wire Show: GOP to control Legislature?

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 148 views 

Ted Thomas said during taping for The City Wire Show that he is confident Republicans will capture a majority of seats in the Arkansas House and the Arkansas Senate.

Interviews with former Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody and economist Jeff Collins, and an organizer for Paint the Park Pink will also be part of the upcoming The City Wire Show.

Control of either legislative body would be a change of political reality in Arkansas not seen in more than 140 years.

Thomas, a former Arkansas Legislator who now works with Diamond State Consulting, said his firm has polled between 25 and 30 House races and about 15 Senate races. Based on the polling results, Thomas said Republicans are in “a good position to take control” of the Arkansas House and the Arkansas Senate.

Arkansas GOP leaders have said they are likely to capture the House in the 2012 election cycle, but have not been so confident about gaining a majority in the Senate. To gain 5 new seats in the 100-member House and just 3 in the 35-member 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.

Two of the races polled by Diamond State show Republicans winning contested races in the Fort Smith metro. Sen. Bruce Holland, R-Greenwood, holds a more than 23-point lead over Rep. Tracy Pennartz, D-Fort Smith, for the Senate District 9 race. Pennartz is term limited in the House seat, and Holland seeks a second term in the Senate.

Pennartz responded to the Diamond State poll with her own survey. The poll, conducted by Austin, Texas-based Stanford Campaigns, “reached” 1,111 likely voters. It showed 21% support for Pennartz, 23% for Holland and 56% undecided.

In Arkansas House District 82, Republican Bill Gossage is trying to unseat first-term Rep. Leslee Milam Post, D-Ozark. The district stretches north from Franklin County into portions of Madison and Newton counties. A Diamond State poll of likely voters showed Gossage with 54.4% approval, compared to 29.3% for Post.

Link here for info on Northwest Arkansas and Fort Smith metro area legislative races.

Dan Coody, mayor of Fayetteville between 2001 and 2008, is in a heated campaign for his old job against Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan.

Coody said he is in the race because the city is going “the wrong direction.” He blasted Jordan for parking policies that Coody alleged have harmed businesses on Dickson Street.

Coody also said he has asked Jordan to participate in a Sept. 25 “town hall” at the Fayetteville Town Center. The event, according to Coody, would be a Q&A session with questions coming from the audience. Coody said he has not heard back from Jordan on the invitation. (Jordan has been invited to appear on The City Wire Show, but as of the Thursday taping had not responded.)

Jeff Collins, a nationally known economist based in Springdale, co-founder of Streetsmart Data Services, and economist for The City Wire’s The Compass Report, spoke about new global realities that are likely impacting jobless numbers in the two metro areas.

He said an estimated 900 million people entered the global workforce between 2000 and 2010, with a majority of those representing people in India and China who left rural areas for jobs in urban centers.

Collins, who once served as director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at the University of Arkansas, said those workers compete against U.S. workers in the global economy. Therefore, the days of 4% unemployment in the U.S. may be over. He said an 8% jobless rate “may be the new 4%.”

The City Wire Show, which appears Saturday and Sunday mornings in the two markets, will include a recap of major events, updates and details on ongoing issues, updates on newsmakers and discussion of arts & entertainment action.

The show airs Saturday mornings at 8 .m. on KXNW-TV 34, which is channel 20 for Cox cable customers in Northwest Arkansas and channel 8 for Cox cable customers in the Fort Smith area. The show will air Sunday mornings at 6 a.m. on KFSM-TV 5.

5NEWS Anchor Daren Bobb and The City Wire managing editor Michael Tilley are hosts for the show.