Notes from the Campaign Trail: First District candidates spying endorsements and visitors

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 504 views 

In the First Congressional District, the race between Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford and Democratic challenger Chintan Desai is drawing attention. The race is certainly not on the national radar, but in recent days the activity has picked up.

Desai picked up the endorsement of former Democratic U.S. Rep. Marion Berry, who held the seat from 1996-2010. Not a surprise that a Democrat would endorse a Democrat, but Berry could have certainly sat on the sidelines this election cycle.

Berry has signed a letter and posed with a “Desai for Congress” sign as part of the deal.

“Chintan Desai is a leader for all parts of the district who has an unmatched commitment to the families of Arkansas, and that’s why I’ll be voting for him this November,” Berry said in a letter posted on Desai’s twitter feed.

“Our farmers are the unnecessary victims of this administration’s trade war, and our current Congressman’s refusal to stand up for them is unacceptable,” Berry continued. He noted he was “deeply impressed” with Desai’s multiple visits through the 30 counties of the district “and that’s why I feel compelled to offer my endorsement,” he added.

As a side note, in this day and age of Twitter, could someone please get former Congressman Marion Berry on the platform? Think of the observations he’d share.

Crawford, Berry’s successor, is bringing in a darling of the right (and villain of the left) to Arkansas for a fundraiser in September.

On September 11, Crawford is holding a fundraiser at ASU’s First National Bank arena in Jonesboro with “his very special guest,” U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.

Nunes is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, on which Crawford serves. Nunes, one of President Trump’s strongest Congressional allies, has been a lightning rod of controversy in the committee’s Russia probe. He’s been instrumental in drumming up investigations into the Department of Justice and FBI to counter the Mueller investigation and has, rather heavy-handedly, guided the committee to issue reports criticized as incomplete by his Democratic colleagues.

Most recently, he was captured on tape at a fundraiser for an embattled House member saying that the GOP had to keep control of the House to protect Trump.

“If (Attorney General Jeff) Sessions won’t un-recuse and Mueller won’t clear the President, we’re the only ones, which is really the danger … we have to keep all these seats,” he said on the tape.

“If the Democrats get control, they’re going to drop all of this investigation,” he said in reference to his efforts to scrutinize federal law enforcement agencies.

Might someone record his remarks at ASU? We somehow suspect there will be ground rules against it.

Both major party Second District Congressional candidates – U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, and State Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, have taken to the airwaves ahead of Labor Day. The race, which is high-profile on the national stage, has shifted recently from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican” by several national prognosticators.

Hill has been running an ad about his business and political promises. It touts protecting Social Security and Medicare and lowering taxes in a way that is raising wages and protecting family businesses.

Tucker rolled out a new bio ad this past week that touts places and events in the district that shaped his life: baseball fields, Central High, his church, a farm, the state capitol and UAMS. He notes how these places define who he is.

Expect to see more TV ads from both candidates and outside groups from now until Election Day. This race will bring millions of dollars of ad spending into central Arkansas.

Like Rep. Rick Crawford, Tucker is also bringing a sitting Congressman to the district. On Sunday, August 19, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights icon, is joining Tucker at a rally on the campus of Philander Smith College. The event is from 1:30-2:30 p.m.

On Wednesday (Aug. 15), Tucker also challenged Hill to three televised debates between now and Election Day. They are both slated to appear at one debate on AETN on Oct. 8. Hill turned down a Talk Business & Politics-KATV debate, but Tucker has accepted. That debate will go on – without Hill – giving Tucker a full hour of time to himself.

August 15th brought a deadline for candidates and some ballot question committees to report their finances through the end of July. As a public service, we pull a compilation together of the all-important cash-on-hand balances as of July 31, 2018 for several key offices and measures.

Asa Hutchinson (R) – $2,377,759.89
Jared Henderson (D) – $92,122.35
Mark West (L) – $3,303.91

Lt. Governor
Tim Griffin (R) – $514,087.70
Anthony Bland (D) – $5,185.90
Frank Gilbert (L) – $177.94

Attorney General
Leslie Rutledge (R) – $478,115.86
Mike Lee (D) – $24,243.57
Kerry Hicks (L) – hasn’t filed any reports

Arkansas Supreme Court
Courtney Goodson (I) – $34,364.80
Donald Sterling (I) – $61,314.05

Casinos (for)
Driving Arkansas Forward – $61,086.99
Arkansas Throroughbred Racing and Breeding Alliance – $7,585.86
Arkansas Jobs Coalition – 0

Casinos (against)
Family Council Action Committee (filed papers, but no financial report)
Citizens for a Better Pope County (filed papers, but no financial report)

Tort Reform (for)
Arkansans for Jobs and Justice – $1,085,456.06
Arkansas Health Care Association – 0
Arkansas Medical Society – 0
Arkansas Hospital Association – 0
Arkansas Trucking Association – 0
Pulaski County Medical Society – (filed papers, but no financial report)

Tort reform (against)
Protect Arkansas Families – $1,599,772.32
Liberty Defense Network – $167,147.44
Family Council Action Committee – $74,283.07
Defending Your Day in Court – $9,922.96

Editor’s note: ‘Notes from the Campaign Trail’ is a compilation of various political insider tidbits. It is sponsored by Campbell Ward Consulting|Communications.