Thursday, January 21, 2010

Baker Has A Right to Change His Mind

The Gilbert Baker for U.S. Senate Campaign released this statement Wednesday....

“Congratulations to Scott Brown for his impressive win in Massachusetts. Even President Obama himself couldn’t stop the will of the people, painting the bluest of the blue states red. The huge voter turnout is a clear indication that the wave of discontent among voters is at an all time high. Bay State voters, like people across America, are fed up with Obama’s big-government agenda and are speaking from the ballot box. I will be a check and balance to the democratic leadership in Washington. Blanche Lincoln should look at this and realize if Democrats can’t win in Massachusetts, she can’t win in Arkansas.”

Which is a change from what Baker has been saying this whole campaign, and as recently as the previous Saturday. At the Mountain Talk 97 Candidate forum Baker was still trying to play the old "vote for me because I can raise the money to win" card.

Conrad Reynolds and Jim Holt both disputed the claim, saying national money from some faction of the GOP will come to whoever gets this nomination. Unlike 2004, people are onto Blanche now. Holt, despite his proven crossover voter prowess, declined to play the "I am the one who can win" card by saying he thought all four of the candidates there could beat Blanche Lincoln now. It was in effect telling voters to vote for the one you think is best, instead of letting a spurious "I can win" argument pressuring voters to pull the lever for someone they trust less. One of the debate moderators closed the forum by saying she also thought any of them could beat Blanche. After looking at those dreadful Lincoln poll numbers that (Baker's campaign manager) Clint Reed did for Roby Brock, maybe Baker sees it that way too.

Thanks to an alert reader brought this story to my attention. At any rate, Gilbert Baker has a right to change his mind. This re-assessment, if that is what it is, does not mean anything nefarious IMHO. It just means Baker needs a new game plan horse-race wise. Holt is going to make the case that voters are free to vote for the one they know they can trust to stay staunchly conservative. I suppose we will see what the Baker counter is shortly.

13 Comments:

Blogger Fire Blanche said...

Mark--you said, "Holt . . . declined to play the "I am the one who can win" card". Two points in response: First, Holt can't play that card because he's never proven he can win in a statewide race. Baker can legitimately play the "vote for me because I can raise the money to win" card because there is ample proof that he can raise more than a modest amount of money to be competitive win. The statistics don't lie: the candidate with the most amount of money usually wins. Second point is that you need to show me more proof that Holt has "proven crossover voter prowess". I just don't see it that way and would respectfully disagree with that assertion. However, am more than willing to be proven wrong. The thing that I do like about Holt when compared to Baker is what you touched on at the end of your post and that is who will continue to be staunchly Conservative should they win and get to represent us in Washington, D.C. Baker scares me on that front in that he is the more susceptible candidate for that to occur. One example: if you will recall, at the straw poll in December, Baker made the following statement: "I am for smaller government. I will be a check and balance against a government takeover of our lives." Unfortunately, the second part of his statement shows that he is out-of-touch with what is sorely needed in Washington. After saying we need "smaller government" the next thing that should have come out of Baker's mouth (or any candidate's mouth) is what they are going to do to get us to smaller government; not some throw-away line about being a "check and balance" in Washington! It's way too late to simply go to Washington to be a "check and balance" to Liberalism. Being a "check and balance" was what Conservatives should've done 80, 70, 60, 50 or 40 years ago. Right now, the concern is to make the Federal Government small and limited and articulate with specificity how that will be accomplished and Baker didn't utter a word about that after claiming he was in favor of small and limited government. I still haven't heard from him or Holt (or any of the others)on specifically what they will do to obey the Constitution and make our Federal Government smaller and more limited (i.e.: terminate the Departments of Energy and Education and the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of Housing and Urban Development and kill off Amtrak and phase out the United States Postal Service; that's just a start -- there is so much to dismantle!!!). If I had been a candidate at that straw poll speaking after Baker, I would have fired back with the following: "here's a newsflash for Mr. Baker: GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY TAKEN OVER OUR LIVES, MR. BAKER!!! WHAT I HAD HOPED TO HEAR OUT OF YOUR MOUTH WAS THAT YOU WOULD GO TO WASHINGTON, D.C. TO BEGIN DISMANTLING VAST PARTS OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. THAT YOU WOULD GO TO WASHINGTON, D.C. TO ACTUALLY MAKE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SMALLER AND LIMITED AND OFFER SPECIFIC PROPOSALS OF HOW YOU WILL UNDO THE LIBERALISM AND NOW SOCIALISM FORCED ON US OVER THE PAST 80 YEARS AND GET RID OF THE WASTE, THE PORK AND THE ENTITLEMENT PROGRAMS! BUT MR. BAKER, YOU DIDN'T SAY THAT AND THAT TELLS ME YOU WILL BE NOTHING BUT ANOTHER HACK POLITICIAN GOING TO WASHINGTON READY TO COMPROMISE WITH HARRY REID AND JOHN KERRY AND BARBARA BOXER. WE NEED SOMEONE WHO WILL NEVER COMPROMISE, NEVER YIELD ON CONSERVATIVE PRINCIPLES LIKE A SMALL AND LIMITED FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. WE NEED SOMEONE WHO WILL GO TO WASHINGTON AND NOT "MAKE NICE". THAT IS WHY WE DON'T NEED A HACK POLITICIAN THIS TIME AROUND WE NEED A CONSERVATIVE CITIZEN-CANDIDATE WHO CAN WIN.

That, Mark, is what I would have said to Baker (and to any other candidate running). Thanks for your blog, Mark and make it a great day!

8:21 AM, January 21, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fire Blanche,

Great post. Let me try to shed some light on the first part. Gilbert has consistently proven he is the "Miracle Grow" Candidate for increasing the size of the Arkansas State Government since he quit his government job working for the state of Arkansas as a prof. at UCA. He record for being a "check & balance" in Arkansas is less than stellar . He won't make the tough conservative choices because he doesn't want to take the heat from the media, lobbyists, or party leadership. He doesn't have a record of going against his own party even when the party is wrong. This pattern of behavior on both sides of the Aisle has gotten the country into the mess we are in today.

If he can't do it at home in Little Rock, that's proof positive for me that he will not be able to change once he gets to DC.

Holt has consistently proven he can take the heat because his loyalty is to the Constitution(US & Arkansas), Constitutional Principles, & the party platform He has taken numerous stands as a legislator in opposition to the Arkansas Republican Establishment stopping bills that are either unconstitutional or grow the size/scope of government.

I know I can trust Holt. His record lines up with what he is talking about now as a Candidate.
He has been in the Kitchen with the heat turned on high several times proving he can take the heat. He never voted for tax increase as a Senator and voted against his own pay raise every time. Even though he was chastised by one other Republican Senator for making the others look bad.

Gilbert's campaign rhetoric matches the current political winds and not is tax, spend, grow government record . He just voted for the Gas Severance Tax(Mark wrote a piece on this back in June - Can you repost this Mark?) very recently resulting in:

1) Your Gas Bill being significantly higher this year and

2) Natural Gas production in Arkansas decreasing

End Result:

1) Higher consumer gas prices - inflation to us in an already declining economy

2) Lower tax revenues from the Gas Companies because production by those companies has decreased because of the increase in the tax imposed by Gilbert & Co - ie. The state has lowered the natural gas drilling companies return on investment by imposing a significantly higher tax. The investment dollars that would come into Arkansas to Drill More are finding competing opportunities with better returns on their invested dollars in other states that are more private sector friendly.


Gilbert does not get the whole private sector thing that the country was founded on and that needs to rediscovered this election cycle if we are to keep our freedoms and our country.

He has spent his entire career as a government employee as some level or another.

Gilbert is going to need a lot more money to craft his image as a true conservative. He will need Blanche type of Money to do that. He will not get that type of $. The people like you, Tea Partiers, & Independents are tired of being lied to and will not buy into the dishonest packaging. They are tired of trusting the packaging only to find out the contents in the box don't match the label on the box. Because we end up with the Country and Overreaching Government you described in the 2nd half of your post.

Bruce, Robert The

10:55 AM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Robert the Bruce, here is that article which you referenced "Another Teachable Moment on Taxes"

http://arkansaswatch.blogspot.com/2009/06/another-teachable-moment-on-taxes.html

6:17 PM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Fire Blanche,

That is a fine post. Only the use of paragraphs could have improved it!

You seem like a fair-minded individual, so I am gonna give you a cut and paste from an earlier article where I give the facts for Holt and crossover voters...
***********************

The insiders are mostly liberal republicans who think that the key to winning "swing voters" is to go left. That mythical swing voter does not exist. The typical swing voter does not have a fixed ideology, that is why they swing. They cast their vote according to how they like people and who makes their case with the most passion and skill. Some of them are more conservative than the average NWA Republican. And Holt has gotten more of them to vote for him than any Arkansas Republican alive.

I don't just say that as a phrase, but as a mathematical certainty. In the 04 race Holt got more people to vote for him than ever voted for a Huckabee or a Hutchinson. He holds the record for most votes ever received by a living Arkansas Republican. It is simply impossible for that to be true unless Holt is able to get non-traditional GOP voters to vote for him.

The charge that Holt is unable to attract independents and crossover voters is, with mathematical certitude, false. It is based on a misunderstanding of who most of these voters are and what drives them.

One last charge in that race is that Bush beat Kerry in Arkansas so it is not saying much that Holt kept it pretty close against Lincoln. This is pure spin. Kerry was a known Massachusetts liberal. Blanche is a known Virginia liberal, but it was not known at that time. If Holt had run against Kerry in Arkansas, Holt would have plastered Kerry too. Bush was from neighboring Texas, was the incumbent, was running against a liberal from a state Arkansans are dubious about, and Kerry quit spending money here once it was clear Bush would win the state. It is just not a fair comparison. Kerry wasn't even trying in this state.

2) Two years later, Bush was wildly unpopular and for good reason. Holt ran for Lt. Governor, and this time the establishment was going to fight him for it. They thought he had a chance to win. They sent in Governor Huckabee's floor leader, Rep. Doug Matayo, and Attorney Chuck Banks. Again came the accusations that Holt was too extreme to win and that he would be a drag on the whole Republican ticket.

Holt won the three way primary without a run off, getting just shy of 56% of the vote while spending only 17% of the money spent in that race. The establishment types responded with their usual class and decorum. Banks never did endorse Holt. Matayo never endorsed Holt by name, saying only "I support the Republican candidate."

This just underscores the truism. When the establishment types start screaming that Holt is unelectable, to the extent it is true it is only because they won't let it be untrue. They won't hold their nose and vote for him like they expect the grassroots to do when they saddle people with another establishment hack. Instead, they get their tongues moving and join the opposition, all they while claiming HE is not a loyal Republican!

In the general election, there was a drag on the ticket, but it was not Jim Holt. It was Bush. People were so mad at him that they took it out on the Republicans that they could vote against. People did not know or care what a Lt. Governor did, they just wanted to send a message to Washington. I remember Holt being exasperated when his usual campaign magic did not work at bringing people over, "they are not giving me a chance, they don't like Bush" he reported.

His magic did not completely fail. Holt got more votes than any Republican in Arkansas in 06. What that means is that Holt got more independents who did not vote for any other Republican to vote for him. This again puts to rest the charge that Holt has no crossover appeal.

6:23 PM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

part II

Holt did not drag the ticket down, he dragged it up, but not enough to overcome the stigma of Bush. He had more crossover appeal than any Republican on the ballot. The problem was not that Holt was weak, but that the Republican label was weak. That's not Holt's fault. It is the fault of the insiders who have run the party both state and nationally, the same ones that are fighting Jim Holt tooth and nail. I want to ad that Asa Hutchinson and his team could afford to do polling, and they started showing up at Holt events all over the state. Would they do that if their polling data showed that Holt hurt them with the crossover voters?

When I say that Holt got no support from the state or national party, I want to emphasize that this is not true on the county level. The county committees were almost all staunch supporters. This might be expected towards a candidate who won 149 of 150 counties in two state-wide primaries. They gave what little resources they had. But the big money is from DC, and much of that flows to the state. It does not reach the counties.

In September and October it became clear from the polls that there was one race that was closer than the others, Lt. Governor. The Democrats saw that, and they dumped an extra $250,000 to help Halter by running a series of outrageous attack ads on Holt. Mrs. Holt and I asked then GOP Chairman Gilbert Baker for help from the party like Halter was getting from his. I asked him for this helped immediately after he bragged to us about how he just got back from Washington and had raised another huge amount of money for the state party. He then backed off saying that he had no control over how the money was spent.

I don't know that he was lying, but I didn't believe him then and I don't now. For all I know, even back then he had his eye on the US Senate race and did not want Jim Holt around as the obvious choice against Blanche, which he would have been if he had been the only Republican to win a state wide office. He has taken elaborate pains to give the impression that he was NOT going to seek the Senate seat, but there have been some puzzling cracks in that story.

Regardless, the point is that the state party was no help. We could barely even get them to do a press release for us. I am not kidding, they were that sorry. Their "opposition research" actually came back and bit us. It was on Halter's property tax. I kept saying that it looked like a misunderstanding, but they insisted that it was solid. They got Jim all fired up about it. It turned out it was a misunderstanding as I suspected. It made Halter, who has plenty of real dirty, look vindicated. The party slinked away, almost apologizing to him for bringing it up. To say they were no help is an understatement, they were a drag on the campaign.

6:24 PM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

part III

The ads the Dems were running attacking Holt were so over the top that if we had had money we could have skewered them on the counterpunch, but we did not have it. It all went to Asa. He is a good guy, but they were putting all of their eggs in one basket, and a basket that was much less likely to make it to table than the Holt basket. The Democrats played it smart and shifted resources to the one race that was truly close going into the final stretch.

Some people think that Holt has already had two chances. Truth is, he has never even had one chance. He has never had the backing of the establishment because he sticks by his principles and gets in the way of what they are trying to do to grow government. He even tells on them sometimes. Just once, I'd like to see what he could do if he actually had backing from the party apparatus (as someone who wins the nomination is supposed to) instead of passive-aggressive resistance. I suspect I will never find out, but the good news is that the people are getting wise like never before. It may be that Holt and those like him can start winning even without their help. There are Tea Parties out there now, the internet is helping people get the truth out. Blanche can't hide who she is now no matter how much special interests give her to buy ads. This may be the year of the regular citizen, in that a guy like Holt can win even without the insider's help. And if Holt can pull that off, he will win and won't owe them one d@#n thing.

6:24 PM, January 21, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent points.

The other truth is Holt will need to get the word out though. And he must have some money to do that. The good news is he will not have to remake / re"package" himself like Gilbert Baker is attemping to do right now.

Therefore Gilbert will need a lot more money than Holt to just do a repackage of his actual voting record.

I've also heard the money is flowing in for Holt way better than it has before.

I'm guessing this is so now because people want to know what they are getting once the winner goes to Washington DC.

North L. R. Conservative

6:40 PM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I believe Holt's website in 04 had lots of specific things that he would cut in the federal budget on it.

7:32 PM, January 21, 2010  
Blogger Fire Blanche said...

Hi Mark!

First, thanks for your kind remarks about my post and the helpful hint on the paragraphs. I'll try to execute that suggestion in this post! I also really do appreciate you taking time to cut and paste from some of your past posts to respond to my skepticism about Holt's ability to beat Blanche Lincoln and win a Senate seat.

After thoroughly reading your posts and comments, much of what you say resonates with the truth. You are an inside player it seems and that is certainly insightful commentary and analysis about what occurred, again, based on the truth as best as you or any Holt supporter could see it. I simply don't know except to again say that it sure resonates with the truth based on my own personal experiences in dealing with the RPA in the last year and some contact with Baker as well as seeing what happened between Baker and Reynolds. That is definitely troubling as trust is the highest value of any public servant.

All that said, the one thing about 2004 regarding Holt's race against Lincoln that continues to make me wonder if Holt can win a statewide race is the fact that in that year he had the most perfect storm (up until this year) to ever come about for a Conservative Republican to defeat a Liberal Democrat incumbent. Simply put, how can a Republican NOT win against a Liberal Democrat incumbent in an election year in which 75% of Arkansans voted in favor of keeping marriage between a man and a woman (thankfully!) and Bush beat Kerry and in so doing, Bush earned 100,000 more votes than he did in 2000 versus Gore (573,000 vs. 472,000). And I can certainly see where you draw the conclusion -- with the additional 100,000 votes Bush earned in 2004 compared to the 2000 election -- that Holt has "crossover" appeal as those appear to certainly be folks that never voted before. However, it should further be pointed out that in 2008, McCain, certainly no Conservative, received 638,000 votes, which of course begs the question of where did those voters come from? And interestingly, in 2000 and 2008, both Gore and Obama, respectively, earned the same amount of votes at 422,000. It was Kerry in 2004, who earned the most at 470,000 votes, nearly 50,000 more than either Obama or Gore.

12:05 AM, January 22, 2010  
Blogger Fire Blanche said...

So, having pointed out all these numbers, you are certainly asking yourself, what in the heck is his point? Well, my point is that I believe the issue of normal marriage versus gay marriage in 2004 was so profound in people's lives, that it caused the huge turnout that it did, even on both sides of the issue. Combined with a popular President in Bush -- at least in Arkansas (I do agree with you that in 2006, he had become decidedly unpopular compared to 2004) and the normal marriage/gay marriage ballot issue, I believe it was Holt's perfect storm to knock off Lincoln, and he didn't "getter done". I also believe, based on first-hand knowledge from certain "high-up" officials at Harding University (Arkansas' version of Hillsdale College/Grove City College/Liberty University -- in other words, a very Conservative institution) that Holt never once contacted these good folks and that is simply very poor campaigning when you don't seek out the support of the top people at Harding University. Who else in 2004 should he have contacted but didn't? These things trouble me and give me pause for concern when deciding who I should vote for. People can and do learn from their mistakes of the past and I trust Holt is doing just that when it comes to turning over every stone possible for support and money. I believe we all hate the money part of campaigns but "it is what it is" and you must embrace the need for raising money and getting the message out. And you can't sit back and wait on the party to throw money your way but have to simply pick up the phone and "dial for dollars" each and every day of the campaign. I am guessing Holt is not very good at that part and that certainly hurts him. He must be fearless with picking up the phone to call people for money -- fearless!

But I am getting off my point somewhat regarding the perfect storm Holt had going into the 2004 election. To try and complete my point, I will give you a football analogy. My business involves the financial advising business and it involves working exclusively with college and pro (mostly college though) football coaches. Additionally, I have a significant history of playing and coaching college football as well as being around it through my family during pretty much my entire life. Thus, the football analogy. And to further my ultimate point, I will also throw in the recent upset by Scott Brown in the Massachusetts Senate race on Tuesday.

In college football over the past 20-30 years, we have seen the resurgence of once morbid programs. A number of them come to mind like Rice, TCU, Northwestern, Rutgers, etc. The list is long. These teams were all very bad college football teams as I was growing up and playing and coaching college football. But now, they have shown varying degrees of success. But one program stands out in particular and that is Kansas State. For decades, Kansas State was just awful! Horrible! But then a guy named Bill Snyder came along and he almost immediately turned it around and started winning. And he started winning big and taking Kansas State to BCS bowl games and winning Big 12 Championships. The common refrain among college football coaches, players and athletic directors is that guys like Bill Snyder killed off the excuses any other coach trying to revive a downtrodden program had when faced with the question of why he hadn't been a winner at that particular program. For if Bill Snyder can revive a wretched program like Kansas State once was then there is no college football program in America that has any excuses other than they just didn't get the job done. Don't tell me it can't be done at a particular school, because it can and it has.

12:06 AM, January 22, 2010  
Blogger Fire Blanche said...

And with Scott Brown's win the other night, the same thing applies to virtually any other candidate who is faced with daunting odds. Don't tell me you can't win because you can win -- just look at Scott Brown in the most Liberal state in America!

And so when I talk about Holt having the perfect storm in 2004, that is what makes me skeptical about him being "the guy" to "getter done" in 2010. A Bill Snyder or Scott Brown type of individual would have gotten it done in 2004 but Holt was apparently not "the guy". And that is why I have my doubts. Certainly 2010 is shaping up to be a unique year, probably unlike any other in Arkansas in many, many decades. But should the next 8-9 months go by with a steadily improving economy (I doubt it) then a Holt candidacy is going to have a tougher time beating Lincoln. And if Halter were to run and beat Blanche in the primary and Halter and Holt squared off again, I'm afraid the perception might be too great for Holt to overcome. That's ashame because as I said earlier, I believe Holt, more than Baker, is the one that will be least likely to let Washington, D.C. change him from his solid Conservative principles. And that's what we need. But we also need to win the seat. I'm hoping against hope that Baker, if he were to win, would be closer to a DeMint or Coburn and not a Graham or Alexander. What a conundrum that puts the genuine Conservative voter in: if you don't get "your guy" in the general election, do you hold your nose and go ahead and vote for a less than genuine Conservative candidate (Baker) who will definitely be better than Lincoln/Halter? Or, out of principle, do you not vote for someone like Baker knowing that he may turn out to be too willing to "play the Washington game", never making government smaller and more limited and failing to act in other Conservative areas and thus simply let the status quo get worse and worse until the American People are finally and truly ready to elect genuine Conservatives to govern?

Interesting questions for genuine Conservatives.

Lastly, I mentioned Dr. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma's junior Senator. Below is a link to a terrific op-ed he had in the Washington Examiner yesterday. We need 60+ senators just like him. I believe Holt is like him, as well. Here it is: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/OpEd-Contributor/Massachusetts-election-was-a-referendum-on-Big-Government-82202832.html (will have to copy and paste into your web browser to go to the op-ed).

12:07 AM, January 22, 2010  
Anonymous c.b. said...

Fire Blanche,
I assume you are very informed on the state of AR politics, so imagine with me a moment who we are going to run against Bebee... It's been kinda hard to find a willing candidate, huh?
It's amazing that despite the most perfect of perfect storms for a GOP candidate(by your own admission), Bebee's poll numbers hover around 70%. Maybe you can set me strait, but I'm having a hard time seeing someone swoop in here, raise big bucks & "Scott Brown" the race.

We may yet see a good candidate... A candidate that is relatively unknown, but upon further inspection is a solid conservative who is serious about the race, ie. Holt in '04. You can bet that candidate would have the same challenges raising money that Holt did.

I can still remember shaking my head to hear life-long republicans say in '04 "You know, Blanche is not so bad... she's not as liberal as other democrats".
Every race has it's own dynamics, yet Bebee's position this year is eerily similar to Blanche's in '04.

6:22 AM, January 22, 2010  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Fire Blanche,

All of your stats are different ways of saying that there were more votes cast in the 2004 election than in either 2000 or 2008. I am not disputing that high turnout was a factor in Jim Holt getting more votes than any living Arkansas Republican, I am just pointing out that he did.

To put it in your football terms, people criticized Snyder for scheduling weak opponents and a lot of his success came when Colorado and Nebraska, the Big 12 North division traditional powerhouses, were down. Still, K-State won the games, regardless of the environment in which they were won. Jim Holt got the votes, regardless of the environment.

I would also point out that not even Snyder went from cellar-dweller to champ in one season. It took several seasons of building. In effect, that is what Holt has done. A new guy would have to lay all that groundwork all over again.

The main thing I want to point out though, is that 2004 was NOT the perfect storm for Blanche Lincoln, 2010 is. Lincoln was pretending to be for traditional marriage. She was just pretending that DOMA was enough. Holt argued that it was not enough, that we even needed a federal amendment. Since that time marriage has come under continued attack. IN other words, Holt appears to have been right on the major policy issue disagreement of that campaign.

Lincoln was pretending to be a pro-marriage moderate and people bought it. THIS is the perfect storm for her, not 2004.

Yes, Holt can win the "championship", but like Snyder, he needs a few seasons (campaigns) to do it. Remember that Snyder's first two seasons at K-State were "losing" seasons.

11:21 AM, January 22, 2010  

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