Arkansas political leaders talk about key races, political spending

by The City Wire staff ( 2 views 

The two leaders of the state’s major political parties offered different views on the trajectory of the general election match-ups, but they tentatively agreed to call out third-party groups who will be spending large sums of money in this fall’s elections.

Appearing on this week’s “Talk Business & Politics,” Republican Party Chairman Doyle Webb and Democratic Party Chairman Vince Insalaco differed on how tight the two premiere races – U.S. Senate and Arkansas Governor – might end.

Polls have shown the Senate race with U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton, R-Dardanelle, extremely competitive, and Asa Hutchinson (R) and Mike Ross (D) have been neck-in-neck.

“I think they go down to the wire. Both races will go down to the wire,” Webb said.

“On those two specific [races], I think Mark is already starting to take a distance,” said Insalaco. “I think you’re going to start seeing, for example, Mike Ross, now that he’s on television, I think you’re going to see that race start. He’s going to come back up again.”

Both party leaders agreed – and bickered – that the ability of independent expenditure groups to influence the races would be significant.

When asked about the role of outside money in state political advertising, Webb and Insalaco said they would be willing to hold a joint press conference to denounce inaccurate statements by groups over which they have no influence.

“I will be glad to have a joint press conference with Vince anytime that we can do it jointly and call both their hands on it, because it will come from both sides,” said Webb.

“Sure, but what I will particularly do is make sure our ads are accurate,” said Insalaco, who suggested that he’d call out groups outside of his purview. “Once the ad runs, if it is inaccurate, we’ll say so.”

Of course, the two leaders differed on a wide range of issues, including what would be the biggest themes for the campaign and how voters would react to political messages.