Mike Ross’ campaign ads would have you believe that he is the voice of independence.
Most of his ads touted himself as “one of the most independent members of Congress” and do not even state that he is a Democrat. In the last debate, he got quite hot under the collar when Asa Hutchinson pointed out that he voted for Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi four times.
But behind closed doors when Ross is in a more Democratic friendly environment, he is more frank about his motives for running. Such was the case with a campaign appearance he made at the Harold Flowers Law Society this summer. The audio was obtained and released by the Republican Party of Arkansas.
“I am trying to save our party, that’s why I am running,” Ross told the predominantly Democratic crowd.
Ross explained that if he had not run, it could be the end of the Democratic Party in Arkansas.
“Elections have consequences. We have had a rough few years for the Democrats in Arkansas. I know we have some Democrats in the room and some Republicans in the room. But let me tell you that whether you listen to any political scientist anywhere in Arkansas, the Republicans have taken over the State House, the State Senate, the Congressional Delegation, the Governor is all we have left. And if you are a Democrat – each of those from Jay Barth to Art English to Hal Bass to Max Brantley to John Brummett – they all predict that if I lose this election, it’s the end of the Democratic Party in Arkansas for at least a generation. I believe that. That’s why I gave up a really good job to do this,” said Ross, explaining that if he loses he predicts Democrats will lose control at even county level positions as officials switch to the Republican Party.
“We can’t afford to let that happen,” Ross said.
Ross also offered some insight into his strategy on how he plans to save the party when asked by someone in the crowd how he was going to get African-Americans to turn out.
“We are working it everyday. Sen. Pryor and I have the Democratic Party – the coordinated campaign. We now have over 100 people on the ground in all 75 counties organizing and a lot of these are people who were working for President Obama in swing states in 2012 and Terry McAuliffe in Virginia in 2013. They are not the ones knocking on doors; they are the ones who know how to crunch numbers. They know where the precincts are, where the voters are that you’ve got to turn out and they are organizing local folks to actually go out and be door knockers,” said Ross.
“We are going to have the most aggressive outreach program that this state has ever had. At least, I am committed to it. I know Sen. Pryor is committed to it. And Harry Reid is really committed to it because if Pryor goes down and we lose control of the Senate, Reid is out.” said Ross.
So if you see “Mr. Independent” Mike Ross show up at the debate on Tuesday, remember his own words. He is running to save the party and is relying on Obama’s organizers and Harry Reid’s desire to keep control of the Senate to turn out his voters.