Arkansas Republicans’ Self-Inflicted Black Eyes

by Michael Cook ([email protected]) 106 views 

The past week was a series of black eyes for Arkansas Republicans.

However, the black eyes weren’t inflicted by an opposing pugilist, but rather it’s as if a boxer stood in the middle of the ring and began punching themselves in the face.

Black Eye #1: Nate Bell’s Callous Tweet

Last week, in the midst of the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bomber, Republican State Rep. Nate Bell tweeted that some Bostonians were cowering in their homes, all because they may be philosophically left of the man from Mena.

Bell’s mean-spirited and heartless tweet brought intense state and national outrage. Bell offered up an apology, but only apologized for the timing of his tweet and not the content – essentially calling some people cowards.

Arkansans shouldn’t be surprised by Bell’s refusal to truly apologize for calling the people of Boston cowards. Don’t forget he never apologized for quoting Nazis a couple of years ago.

Various Republican leaders issued statements disavowing Bell’s comments and apologized to the people of Boston.

Bottom line – Bell’s comments were a black eye for Arkansas Republicans.

Black Eye #2: GOP Newsletter Suggesting Shooting State Legislators

My Talk Business colleague Jason Tolbert broke the story of an official Benton County Republican Party e-mail newsletter sent out last week containing an article that suggested shooting state legislators if “they got too far out of line.”

Tim Summers, the Benton County Republican Party chair, claimed the email newsletter went out without his approval and disavowed the offending article, which led to a State Police investigation of the threats.

There are many moving parts to this story, so click here for a good round-up from Talk Business.

Bottom line is Arkansas Republicans ended up with another black eye.

Black Eye #3: GOP Election Fraud

A former Republican candidate for Faulkner County Sheriff admitted in federal court last Friday to forging birth certificate records to make it appear one of his Republican primary rivals had fathered an illegitimate black child in Texas.

From a Stephens Media article on the crime:

U.S. Attorney Chris Thyer said in a news release that in 2012, while Harold L.Smith was seeking the Republican nomination for Faulkner County sheriff, he conspired with another person to create a false birth certificate showing that another Republican candidate, Andy Shock, was the father of an illegitimate black child.

On March 28, 2012, Smith and his accomplice drove to Hooks, Texas, where Smith mailed about 12 envelopes containing a note and the fake birth certificate to Faulkner County residents who were expected to vote in the primary.

Another black eye for Arkansas Republicans.

Black Eye # 4: Medicaid Private Option

I would call the private option vote a black eye for Arkansas Republicans because they fought each other viciously over this issue.

GOP House majority leader Bruce Westerman, during the House private option debate, accused those voting for the private option as being like Judas and taking “30 pieces of silver.”

That’s gotta hurt.

To hear various right-wing activists describe it, Arkansas Republicans voted for Obamacare and created the largest state government expansion in Arkansas’s history when they approved the Medicaid private option.

While legislative Republicans did the right thing by voting for the private option, many in their party are not happy with the vote. The private option fight opened up rifts within the Republic Party, but it’s unclear if they are temporary or permanent.

All in all, the past week didn’t go all that well for Arkansas Republicans.