Tolbert: Democrats Scraping The Barrel For District 1 Candidate

by Jason Tolbert ( 72 views 

The political strategy is relatively basic for statewide Democratic candidates Mike Ross for Governor and Mark Pryor for Senate.  They need Democratic voters to turn out to the polls, particularly in areas where they have historically done well.

This is largely the basis for the candidacies of former FEMA director James Lee Witt in AR4 and former North Little Rock Mayor Pat Hays in AR2.  Both are long shots, but respectable enough candidates to help rally the base to the polls and even if they don’t win, maybe they will bring in a few extra votes for Ross and Pryor.

Over in northeast Arkansas – traditionally a stronghold for Democrats – the party faithful are having a tough time finding a candidate.  They tried to get State Sen. Keith Ingram of West Memphis to run. No dice.  Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin was heavily recruited.  He said no.

Now, they have worked their way down the list to Heber Springs Mayor Jackie McPherson, who is currently the guy they are trying to get to run.  McPherson is hardly the top-notch candidate some were hoping for.  Other than the obvious point of not being well-known, he has some issues that could make his campaign look like a re-run of Herb Rule for Congress.

For starters, he has not had much success at the ballot box in previous campaigns.  In 2000, he lost to Bill Stovall in the Democratic primary for State Representative District 42 getting less than 33% of the vote.  Hardly a resume of a top Democratic recruit.

His term as mayor has hardly been stellar.  In 2008, Arkansas Legislative Audit wrote him up for “noncompliance with state law and accepted accounting practices” regarding his failure to obtain bids on the sale of a city dump truck.  Last June, there was a dust up between McPherson and the Arkansas Department of Health when he opened the city beach during an E coli outbreak.

Only four years ago, Rep. Rick Crawford was elected as the first Republican in modern history for the district.  Now, it seems Democrats are pushing hard to get a little-known mayor miles away from the population centers of the district and with a rocky history to be one of their candidates.  It is amazing how much northeast Arkansas has changed.