With Arkansas farmers struggling from a combination of terrible weather, low commodity prices and tariff and trade wars around the globe, Democratic Party of Arkansas chairman Michael John Gray, a farmer from Augusta, Ark., says the state’s Republican delegation is out of touch.
Gray, who appeared on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, said that Arkansas’ all-GOP Congressional delegation needs to do more to end President Donald Trump’s “manufactured crisis” trade war with China.
“I think everybody needs to understand that before all of this, the farm economy was bad. Agriculture goes through cycles just like anything else, and right now it was in a really bad one. And the tariff fight and then the rhetoric around it has just been insult to injury, to every single farmer in America,” Gray said.
Gray said that comments from Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., last week that farmers are willing to bear some of the same sacrifices as U.S. “soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines” was particularly out of touch.
“There is no one with half a brain that doesn’t think that any sacrifice pales in comparison to what our servicemen and women do for us every day, and I thought that was a little bit of a political stunt by Senator Cotton to try to pit the sacrifices veterans make against what farmers are going through now,” Gray said.
“We’ve seen Congressman [Rick] Crawford, we’ve seen Senator Cotton try to couch this as a temporary or short-term sacrifice. Well, for someone who is financially stable, maybe it’s a short-term sacrifice. But for most of Arkansas farmers, it is a year-to-year thing, and so what may look like from Washington, if you’ve haven’t been on the farm, as a short-term sacrifice, it’s the end of a career for families and unfortunately, depression is real. Life is real. It’s the end of lives for some people. So this is not temporary. It is a finality,” he added.
Gray admits that a Democratic challenger to seats up for grabs in 2020 may be a long-shot. He’s hoping there will also be Republican primary challengers to the state’s incumbent federal delegation to put pressure on them to stand up to Trump’s tariff tactics.
“I’d love to say that a threat of a Democratic challenger intimidates them. It won’t until it does,” Gray said. “I think that throughout the South, you’re going to have to see some Republican primary challengers that may not win, but that can wake these guys up a little bit, and I think that softens the ground for Democrats.”
Cotton has an announced challenger in Democrat Josh Mahony, but no other candidates have announced yet that they will file against the state’s four Republican Congressmen, who are up for re-election next year.
There are at least 23 Democratic Presidential contenders for the 2020 election. Gray said that although Arkansas does not have a lot of delegate votes compared to other states, an earlier primary should result in some candidates coming to the Natural State to campaign.
Watch his full interview in the video below.