Notes from the Campaign Trail: DCCC plans big buy in Second District Congressional race

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 851 views 

A six-figure ad buy from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) would suggest that the national Democratic campaign arm is bullish – for now – on their nominee Clarke Tucker’s bid to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill.

Talk Business & Politics has learned that the DCCC has placed around $275,000 for a TV buy in central Arkansas from early October through the end of the month. The ad buy places a heavy emphasis on Oct. 8-21.

Democrats need to pick up at least 23 seats in the midterm election to regain control of the U.S. House. In Arkansas’ Second District, President Trump won by nearly 10 points in 2016. In a recent Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll, Trump’s job approval in the district was 47-44%. That same poll had Hill leading Tucker 49.5%-40.5%.

On the ad buy, Tucker tells Talk Business & Politics, “We are focused on the people we want to serve in Congress. We have always known this race is competitive — we’ve seen that in polling, we’ve seen it in national attention, but most important we have heard it from people across the district. I’ve been to every county fair and more in the last few weeks, and the response to our campaign has been overwhelming and positive. We’ve watched Congressman Hill vote for special interests and against our health care, and we’re ready for a new Congressman who puts the people here first.”

Hill’s campaign manager John Grove responded, “It’s not surprising Nancy Pelosi’s liberal Washington allies are funding their handpicked candidate Clarke Tucker because they know they can count on his support for higher taxes, bigger government, and their assault on Arkansas values.”

In other news on the Tucker-Hill matchup, Tucker’s campaign manager Don Shaw is no longer with the campaign. He reportedly had another opportunity in Washington D.C. this cycle. The Tucker campaign confirmed his departure and said Nancy Leeds is the new campaign manager. Leeds started last Monday.

Finally, both Hill and Tucker have new ads airing on TV stations across the district. You can view them both below.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jared Henderson released his plan for criminal justice reforms on Monday (Oct. 1).

Henderson said if Arkansas were a country, it would have the 6th highest rank of number of incarcerated individuals in the world. “If we don’t alter course of Arkansas’s incarceration rate, we are going to have to find more than $600 million in 4-6 years to designate towards construction and operating costs for a new prison,” he said.

The plan calls for:

  • Reducing the number of incarcerated individuals in Arkansas by 20% over the next 8 years by addressing the root causes of recidivism and providing community-based sentencing alternatives.
  • Adequately staffing parole and probation systems to guarantee the support and supervision reentering citizens need to get back on their feet and avoid recidivism.
  • Treating mental illness and addiction by expanding access to treatment centers and recovery programs and training law enforcement to detect mental illnesses early on.
  • De-prioritizing drug possession where appropriate and looking for other opportunities to keep non-violent offenders out of prison when they do not pose a public safety risk.
  • Moving toward a full-time, professional parole board comprised of individuals in criminal justice, mental health, and rehabilitation backgrounds.

Henderson’s plan also calls for improving data collection, reforming the cash-bail system, prioritizing rape kit processing, and finding new approaches to juvenile offenders instead of adopting what he calls a “zero tolerance” policy.

“It will take bold, smart leadership to tackle the rising epidemic of mass incarceration in Arkansas that is wasting taxpayer money and failing to prioritize our toughest crime. Arkansas has an opportunity to truly create a better life for all of our citizens if we remove wasteful spending on non-violent offenders for technical violations and instead present to them an opportunity to be contributing members of society,” Henderson said.

Jamie Barker, spokesman for the Hutchinson for Governor campaign, tells Talk Business & Politics, “Mr. Henderson does not have the facts and his idea to release more from prison is naïve and dangerous. Governor Hutchinson has provided consistent leadership on incarceration and parole issues. In his first term, Gov. Hutchinson reduced the back log of prisoners in county jails, worked with faith leaders and our communities to strengthen re-entry programs, and championed the formation of Crisis Stabilization Units (CSU’s) to divert those with mental health issues from our county jails to a safe facility for treatment.

“Under recent justice reform legislation, graduated sanctions against technical parole violators have been put in place and the Governor’s plan for juvenile justice reform calls for increased community based services. Jared also proposes bail reform. Currently, non-violent subjects are released on bail prior to conviction. If his goal is to release 5,000 subjects into the public, the likely result will be more violent defendants being released into the community. There is very little new policy in the proposal and what is new is dangerous to the public,” Barker said.

Mark West, the Libertarian candidate for Arkansas Governor, recently received kudos from Jan Morgan, Hutchinson’s GOP primary challenger. Morgan, who owns a gun range in Hot Springs, touted West as a former client.

“Career politicians POSE with guns in order to convince voters they support the 2nd Amendment. Mark West, the Libertarian candidate for Governor is NOT A POSER,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

“He’s a shooter.. I know this because, long before he was a political candidate, I trained him,” she added. “He and I may not agree on all the issues but he is solid on the 2nd Amendment.”

FYI, Hutchinson received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association about two weeks ago.

“We appreciate your leadership in working to improve the security of our schools. This is a critically important issue and your dedication to addressing it deserves to be commended. In addition, you improved state law by signing legislation to expand the areas where concealed carry license holders may lawfully carry. Finally, you have consistently opposed efforts to ban commonly owned firearms and ammunition,” said Chris Cox, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action’s executive director.

The five-way race for Little Rock mayor is taking on more visibility. Baker Kurrus has been on the airwaves for a few weeks and rolled out his second ad of the campaign season in the last several days.

You’ll have to access his Facebook page to watch them.

Warwick Sabin debuted his first TV ad over the weekend. You can watch it in the video below.

Kurrus and Sabin are running for the Little Rock mayor’s post against Frank Scott, Jr., Vincent Tolliver, and Glen Schwarz.

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