Notes from the Campaign Trail: Biden endorses Elliott for Congress

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 830 views 

Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden formally endorsed 2nd Congressional District Democratic nominee State Sen. Joyce Elliott, D-Little Rock, on Wednesday (Sept. 16). It isn’t unexpected considering Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Kamala Harris endorsed Elliott several weeks ago.

Still, the endorsement adds to Elliott’s recent momentum, boosted by a Talk Business & Politics-Hendrix College Poll that shows her opponent, U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, with a slim 47.5-46% lead.

“Joyce Elliott’s decades teaching in public schools and serving in the Arkansas Legislature have proved she can work with folks from all backgrounds to lower healthcare costs, invest in our students, and help build a fairer economy for all. I am proud to endorse her campaign for Congress,” Biden said in an endorsement release.

The same TB&P-Hendrix survey shows Biden leading President Donald Trump 49-45% and Gov. Asa Hutchinson with a 70% approval rating among 2nd Congressional District voters.

“I am humbled to receive Vice President Biden’s endorsement. It is an honor to work with him so we can restore the soul of our nation and build back better from our current crisis,” Elliott said.

Hill’s campaign responded with a statement from campaign chairwoman Judith Goodson:

“Joe Biden has joined the ever-growing list of Washington liberals who have endorsed State Senator Elliott, including Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi. This far-left group of radical ideologues will do away with law enforcement as we know it; they refuse to protect the lives of unborn children; and they will raise taxes every chance they get — including middle class taxes to pay for their radical agenda. Just like State Senator Elliott, this long list of liberals does not reflect the values of the Second Congressional District.”

The Democratic Party of Arkansas has been lighting up press releases post-Labor Day. This week so far, they’ve called for GOP state leadership to condemn the actions of a House candidate in Northwest Arkansas and two election commissioners in Jefferson County.

John La Tour, a Republican candidate for House District 86 against Democratic State Rep. Nicole Clowney of Fayetteville, tweeted this earlier in the week:

“Antifa and BLM are now saying they are coming to the country. I wonder what the bag limit is, and where I can purchase riot-idot hunting license.”

Obviously, BLM refers to Black Lives Matter. We think “idot” is a misspelling of the word “idiot.” Draw your own conclusions.

“There is a Republican candidate in northwest Arkansas who is suggesting that African-Americans, and people who say that their lives matter, should be murdered for sport. Failure to condemn this candidate shows a lack of leadership, and even more disheartening, a tacit support for his beliefs by Governor Asa Hutchinson, RPA Chair Doyle Webb, and Congressman Steve Womack,” said DPA Chairman Michael John Gray.

Webb provided this comment to Talk Business & Politics in which he does condemn the statement from La Tour. A spokesman for the party noted that the RPA provided donations to all of its legislative candidates earlier in the cycle.

“I think Mr. La Tour’s comments on Facebook were very inappropriate and clearly show a lack of critical thinking. It should go without saying that the views of one House candidate do not reflect the views of Arkansas’ majority party. We are 49 days away from one of the most consequential elections in modern history and are focused on November,” Webb said.

Another DPA release focused on a formal complaint filed with the State Board of Election Commissioners against Jefferson County Election Commission Chairman Mike Adams and Commissioner Stu Soffer. The DPA wants to nullify a decision to close three polling sites in the county and wants a public reprimand and fines against the two GOP election commissioners. The complaint contends that Adams and Soffer held a private meeting to make these decisions without notifying the Democratic member, Ted Davis, or providing notice to the public.

“I’m disappointed by the failure of the Republican Party of Arkansas, under the leadership of Chair Doyle Webb and Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Arkansas voters of every party deserve to know their elections will be held fairly,” said Gray.

“In 2020, we cannot let Arkansas election commissioners get away with holding secret meetings, excluding African-American commissioners, and closing down polling sites. This is a matter of following the law regardless of party,” Gray added. “It’s ridiculous that in order to protect the voting rights of Arkansans, we’re having to resort to legal action. But it’s been well-documented that this is part of a pattern, in particular for Commissioner Soffer, who has sought to interfere with the voting rights of Arkansans, to suppress public participation in the democratic process, and to foster a culture of hostility toward certain voters, in particular targeting African-Americans voters, candidates, and peers. This casts doubt on the fairness of elections conducted under his watch.”

Webb responded to the Jefferson County situation with the following statement:

“The Republican Party of Arkansas has long believed issues of this scope are to be resolved at the county level of government. The government closest to the people governs the best. We are some 49 days away from an election and our sights are set entirely on making sure that Arkansans in every county get out and vote,” Webb said.

What would have been Issue 4, an amendment proposal to change how the state redraws Congressional and legislative district lines, may be at the end of its legal challenges to qualify for the November 3rd ballot.

Knocked off the ballot by the Arkansas Supreme Court a few weeks ago, Arkansas Voters First – the group pushing the amendment – had filed a federal lawsuit. On Tuesday (Sept. 15), U.S. District Judge Timothy Brooks said he would not allow for a preliminary injunction because he was not persuaded by the plaintiffs’ claims or the likelihood of success in the case.

The amendment would have created a nine-member independent Citizens’ Redistricting Commission that would have included three Republicans, three Democrats and three Independent members. At issue is the law pertaining to the signature collection process that has been ruled to disqualify the petitioners’ signatures.

“While we respectfully disagree with Judge Brooks’ decision, we respect the court and acknowledge the impact of his decision. We will not give up our pursuit for fair, transparent redistricting in Arkansas. Over 150,000 Arkansas voters have been disenfranchised from their right to vote on a citizen-initiated constitutional amendment to end partisan gerrymandering in our state. This process has shown that special interests have too much influence at every level of state government. As voters, we must continuously work to have our voices heard. We will continue this fight beyond November to hold our elected officials accountable to the people,” said Bonnie Miller, Chair of Arkansas Voters First, the group supporting Issue 4.