The Post-Labor Day Political Firestorm

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 42 views 

Labor Day is typically the start of the fall campaign season and the holiday is even known for its patriotic fireworks.

Political fireworks erupted across the state on Tuesday.

Just days after a third party mailer created controversy in several Democratic candidate campaigns, the Democratic Party of Arkansas (DPA) launched a new offensive to put Republican candidates on the defense.

Several GOP candidates were targeted with online advertising through web sites and Facebook. The ads accused the Republican candidates of wanting Arkansas to develop problems of surrounding states and asked voters to support Democratic candidates who support Gov. Mike Beebe’s agenda.

One ad read in part:

Do you want Arkansas to become like…

Oklahoma: Drastic Budget Cuts results in DMV lines starting at 1:30AM.
Missouri: Early child care programs, for hard working families, cut by $10 million.
Tennessee: Slashed college and university funding by more than $20 million.
Texas: Forced to make drastic cuts to close a $27 million budget shortfall.
Louisiana: Budget deficits lead to prison closures, layoffs, and college tuition increases by as much as 10%.
Mississippi: Public school funding cut by 12% per student.

Nate Bell does!

Bell, a Republican from Mena, is being challenged by Democrat Lewis Diggs in the District 20 House race.

“Arkansas Democrats started an ad campaign this weekend attacking me for not being a rubber stamp for Gov. Beebe’s agenda,” Bell wrote on his Facebook page. He cited a litany of statistics showing higher unemployment, lower median household income and greater state debt during Beebe’s tenure as Governor.

“That’s a RECORD of failure! You bet I’m not gonna just sit still and play along,” Bell wrote.  He also added, “I almost enjoy seeing the ads. They’re so full of lies, half truths and assumptions that they’re actually kinda funny.”

The spending is the first of what is expected to be several other anti-Republican, pro-Democratic messages launched by the DPA through an initiative called “Project Majority” — a reference to holding majorities in the Arkansas House and Senate.

Candace Martin, spokeswoman for the DPA, declined to offer specifics, but said the ads were running in districts statewide.

“Republicans running for the state legislature have made it clear they will oppose continuing Governor Beebe’s agenda and instead move Arkansas backward,” Martin said.

In a follow-up to a story first reported by Talk Business last week, Rep. Jim Nickels (D-Sherwood) is one of several Democratic legislative candidates striking back at an Americans for Prosperity (AFP) mailer that made accusations about Democrats’ voting records on potential highway measures.

Two different proposals were referred by the legislature to Arkansas voters allowing for elections on the diesel fuel tax and the sales tax to fund highway projects. The AFP mailer said candidates, including Nickels, voted to advance a $1.1 billion fuel tax.

Nickels and others criticized have dropped mailers that defended their tax records. Nickels’ campaign mailer touted his support for lowering the sales tax on groceries and used car purchases.

“Don’t be fooled and believe lies told by special interest groups! Washington D.C. politics don’t belong in Arkansas!” the mailer reads.

“It is a shame when people distort the truth in order to impact an election,” Nickels said in a press release. “I hate to see this type of misleading information being distributed to the voters. Washington D.C. politics has no place in Arkansas.”

AFP-Arkansas director Teresa Oelke issued a statement today defending the organization’s mailer and warning against over-reaction.

“Since last week, politicians or their representatives have lobbed wild accusations about AFP being a Washington outsider group or some making libelous remarks. AFP’s legal department is looking at the potential for legal action against the more serious libelous statements,” Oelke said.

“Hardworking men and women from all over Arkansas are working together to take a stand against policies that are crushing the economy of our state,” she said. “When legislators vote to advance tax increases rather than stop them in their tracks, they can expect to hear from the tens of thousands of Arkansans who these policies hurt.”

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