At Last a Solid Canidate for Governor, From the Constitution Party!
Conservatives across the state have been wondering who will dare to run against highly popular and well-funded incumbent Governor Mike Beebe. It seems like nothing that the national Democrats do wrong sticks to him. For a while now it has been clear that the Republicans have had trouble finding a credible candidate willing to step up and challenge him. Recently I got wind that the Constitution Party of Arkansas have what they consider a solid candidate to challenge Beebe. I called Constitution Party of Arkansas Chairman Tom Mayfield to discus the rumor.
I asked him first about ballot access. It takes 10,000 voter signatures for a new party to make the ballot. Mayfield noted that they had gotten the 1,000 signatures required for access to the Presidential ballot alone in 2008, and that they were now ready to "do what it takes" to step it up to full ballot access for their candidates. He indicated that they had a solid candidate that is leaning toward running for Governor, even if he has little chance to actually unseat Beebe. According to Arkansas law, if a political party has a candidate for Governor who garners at least 3% of the vote in November, that party gets automatic full ballot access in the next election cycle.
Mayfield was not ready to reveal the identity of his candidate, but did say it is someone who has "recently held public office and who has a real way with people". He would not say what area of the state that the potential candidate was from, but noted "we are not just a northwest Arkansas party. We want someone who would have appeal all over the state and we think we have them."
I asked about the fear of splitting the vote in a three way race and electing a liberal democrat with less than 50% of the vote. "If this candidate does announce, it may be the Republicans who are splitting the vote." Mayfield said. "Anyway, the Republicans would not be running a candidate to beat Mike Beebe or else they would already have one. They would be doing the same thing we would be doing, running a protest candidate to get 3% of the vote in order to keep ballot access for the next election cycle."
It was hard to argue with his logic on that one. Beebe seems bullet proof, so "splitting the vote" is not going to cost any conservative candidate an election. They will only be "splitting" about 40% of the electorate, give or take a few. While that may be true in the Governor's race, what if the CP fields candidates in other state wide races? "We are going to be prudent with where we run people" said Mayfield, " We want to minimize situations where a split vote costs a solid constitution-respecting Republican a chance to win". He agreed that some sort of a run-off system was going to eventually be needed so that people can vote their conscience without fear of vote-splitting.
As an example of a race where the CP was not going to field a candidate and risk a split vote, Mayfield cited the U.S. Senate race. "We think Jim Holt is going to win it, and our members tend to like Jim Holt" he said. Holt has not yet formally announced for the race, but is expected to do so on the 14th. Mayfield would not be pinned down on the idea of deliberately avoiding other state wide races (perhaps they have not been up for discussion like the U.S Senate primary has been). He did mention that state wide campaigns take a lot of resources, and that they wanted to run people in smaller races where they had a greater chance to win.
We will keep you updated.....