May 20, 2014
MEMO: Arkansas Democrats Poised to Run Winning Campaigns in Every Competitive District
TO: Interested Parties
FR: DCCC Communications
DT: May 20, 2014
RE: Arkansas Democrats Poised to Run Winning Campaigns in Every Competitive District
Arkansas Democrats are poised to run winning Congressional campaigns in every competitive district in the state, setting the stage for a potential “Mini-Wave in Arkansas in 2014.”
Thanks to the strong brand of local “Arkansas Democrats,” the statewide Democratic ticket is focused on the economic issues that matter most to voters: creating jobs and growing the economy for working families. At the same time, Republicans have suffered through expensive and divisive primaries in two Congressional districts, producing badly damaged nominees who are out of touch with the independent-minded voters that decide general elections.
Entering the General Election, here is the state of the races in Arkansas.
AR-01: Mayor Jackie McPherson vs. Congressman Rick Crawford
The Mayor of Heber Springs, Jackie McPherson’s life epitomizes the Arkansas values of hard work and bipartisan problem solving. Mayor McPherson worked construction while in high school to help his single mother make ends meet. His first job after school was working on an assembly line for $2.50 per hour in a refrigeration manufacturing plant. From there, Jackie went on to open his own family restaurant, and has served as Mayor of Heber Springs since 2007 – earning a record of fiscal conservatism while delivering quality city services to residents.
Now Mayor McPherson is drawing on his own life experience to fight for Arkansas’ working families – and has already made an increase in the state’s minimum wage a focal point in his campaign, earning praise for his “solidly in the middle of the road…well-honed” message.
The battle lines of this campaign are quickly becoming defined, with Congressman Rick Crawford consistently demonstrating he’s not on the side of Arkansas families. From admitting blame for recklessly delaying the Farm Bill to shutting down the federal government and continuing to take perks, Congressman Crawford has proven he represents everything Arkansans hate about Washington.
Democrats have a history of strong performance in the 1st district; statewide Democrats won the district with 64 percent of the gubernatorial vote in 2006, and in 2008 Senator Mark Pryor won the district with 81 percent of the vote.
AR-02: Mayor Patrick Henry Hays v. French Hill
“Frustration” with the broken politics of Washington and the government shutdown prompted Mayor Patrick Henry Hays to run in the 2nd Congressional District. The longest serving Mayor of North Little Rock, Hays “revitalized” the city, and has a proven record of bipartisan accomplishments: cutting wasteful spending, balancing 24 budgets and making government do more with less – creating an environment of job creation and attracting businesses like Caterpillar to North Little Rock.
Now Mayor Hays is running to be a “strong voice for fiscal sanity,” and he’s already showing how he’ll bring the commonsense values he practiced at City Hall to Congress: refusing to take perks like taxpayer-funded overseas trips, requiring members to approve a budget before they get paid, and getting government back to what worked under President Bill Clinton – “making investments in American and its people.”
And while Mayor Hays is running to shake up Washington, French Hill’s shocking admission that he does not feel negative about the vibe in Washington is perhaps the most damaging indication that this wealthy banker is out of touch with Arkansas families. After facing months of stinging attacks, Hill is emerging from his brutal primary slugfest a badly damaged candidate: fellow Republicans have called Hill out for supporting a tax increase in order to build a sidewalk outside his house, and even slammed him as a “Fancy fat cat.”
Centered around Little Rock, there is strong Democratic DNA in the 2nd Congressional District, including a substantial African American population – and the district’s total minority population is nearly 30 percent. In 2008, Democrat Vic Snyder won the district with 76 percent of the vote, and in 2006 Democratic candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer and Commissioner of Lands all won the district. Following Congressman Tim Griffin’s retirement and Mayor Hays’ entrance into the race, Roll Call’s Stu Rothenberg downgraded Republicans’ chances here.
AR-04: Former FEMA Director James Lee Witt v. Bruce Westerman.
Congressman Tom Cotton’s decision not to seek re-election has put the 4th Congressional District squarely in play for Democrats. Following his decision to enter the race former Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director James Lee Witt was immediately praised as a “Top Dem Recruit,” by the National Journal.
Witt earned a reputation for leadership when lives hung in the balance and is “positioning himself as a centrist deal-maker in the mold of his old friend, former President Bill Clinton,” who praised Witt as “somebody who would immediately be respected by Democrats and Republicans…[and] has made every cause he ever touched better,” and is featured in a new ad for Witt’s campaign released today.
After facing a Tea Party uprising, Bruce Westerman is limping out of his Republican primary having run far to the right of mainstream Arkansans: Westerman supported the shutdown, opposes the bipartisan Farm Bill and praised the Republican budget that ends the Medicare guarantee for seniors and raises taxes on working families – all to give more handouts to the ultra-wealthy and corporations that ship jobs overseas.
Arkansas Democrat Mike Ross represented the 4th Congressional District for six terms before he retired. Ross won this seat by nearly 70 percent in 2006, by 84 percent in 2008, and even in 2010 carried the district with 54 percent. Ross will also be on the ballot this year as the statewide gubernatorial nominee.