The Democratic Party of Arkansas said HIllary Clinton’s primary wins Tuesday night (June 7) mark an “historic night” for the party and the country, with Clinton being the first female presidential nominee for a major party.
Most media outlets called the elections in favor of former Secretary of State – and Arkansas First Lady – Clinton early in the evening following results from California and New Jersey. Also voting Tuesday are New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota and South Dakota.
H.L. Moody, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, said Democrats will have no problem uniting behind the party nominee, adding that eight years ago some were saying they would never vote for Barack Obama but ultimately did.
“I think that Donald Trump is a very unifying force in the Democratic Party and probably the best spokesperson for Democratic unity. … If there’s one thing that Sen. (Bernie) Sanders’ supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters can agree on, that we can unify on, it’s that Donald Trump should never get anywhere near the Oval Office,” he said.
As Clinton took the stage in Brooklyn to address supporters, the Democratic Party of Arkansas issued the following statement: “This is a historic night. For many Arkansans, the celebration is about more than cheering for our state’s former first lady; we are also celebrating the first woman to achieve this significant milestone in our nation’s history. Regardless of politics, we should all be proud to call ourselves Arkansans.”
“Arkansas Democrats are united against Donald Trump’s dangerous and incoherent rhetoric. We know that the best way to move our nation forward is to put another Democrat in the White House. With only five months until Election Day, we will continue working to elect Arkansas Democrats up and down the ticket.”
“While we celebrate this historic night, I ask Arkansas Democrats to remember the last year we have spent developing our county parties, training activists, recruiting quality candidates, and building the general election infrastructure we need to win in November. Remember that we still have a lot of work to do between now and Election Day.”
ARKANSAS GOP RESPONSE
Republican Party of Arkansas Chairman Doyle Webb likewise said that Clinton is a unifying force for his party.
“As I have traveled the state and we speak to different groups, Republicans disagree on various issues,” he said “Republicans disagree on which Republican should have been the nominee for president, but all Republicans agree that Hillary cannot be president of the United States, and whenever I mention that statement, there’s always a resounding applause in the audience when I’m speaking to them, whether it’s a group of 20 or a group of 500.”
While the state’s former first lady won 66% of the vote in the Democratic primary March 1, the party hasn’t won Arkansas’ six electoral votes since its former governor, Bill Clinton, ran for re-election in 1996, and its percentage of the vote has declined each cycle.
Moody said he hasn’t seen polling on the presidential race. He said Arkansas Democrats don’t expect a lot of national attention, and he doesn’t foresee a coordinated campaign occurring between the nominee’s campaign and the state and national parties.
“It’s a long way until November, and we’re going to work very hard to win in Arkansas,” he said.
DEMOCRATIC PUSH IN ARKANSAS
Regardless, the state party is focusing more on building its infrastructure. This year, it hired its first full-time county coordinator with the goal of having a working active party structure in every county.
Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, the party’s House majority leader, said Democrats in the Legislature will unite behind Clinton. He said most legislators have supported her during the primary process.
“I don’t know if there are Sanders supporters,” he said. “I think there are some people that have not necessarily always been Hillary Clinton fans, but they’re absolutely Democratic fans with Democratic values and are ready to support Secretary Clinton.”
However, when asked, Gray said he did not anticipate legislators lining up on the Capitol steps to show their support for Clinton.
“Secretary Clinton, due respect, she has her job to do,” he said. “We have our job to do. She doesn’t need us on the Capitol steps, and our districts need us at home.”
Frank Gilbert, a U.S. Senate candidate for the Libertarian Party of Arkansas, said the party’s candidate has a better background than that of Clinton.
“I am pleased that the LP candidate, Gary Johnson, has more executive experience in government than Ms. Clinton and has none of her legal entanglements or poor judgement.”