Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Good Night for the Grassroots in Arkansas State Government

One of last night's winners was not even on the ballot.

Although I find it pretty hilarious that an unknown Democrat got over 40% of the vote against Resident Obama in the Arkansas primary yesterday (and beat him in over 25 counties), I'd like to focus on the state results in last nights primary elections.

The first thing I think ought to be mentioned is that the results (available here) came faster and smoother from the state than we have ever seen them before.  UPDATE: This was in spite of the fact that "The Drudge Report" linked to the site, something that would crash or slow up many servers.  I believe you have to credit Secretary of State Mark Martin and the County Clerks and election workers for doing an outstanding job of conducting that election.  For the first time I can remember, the Secretary of State Website had the results out faster than the news media's websites.   Instead of following the results on the KARK web site, or that of some other media, I followed them straight from the SOS site.    The county sites I was interested in also seemed faster.

Voter turnout was quite low at 22%, and there were less than 11,000 votes difference (around 7% difference) statewide between the Democrat primary and the Republican Primary.   I can remember when Democrat primary voters outnumbered Republican primary voters five to one (a 500% difference).  Arkansas is a two-party state as a whole, but as I will discuss in a minute, locally it is really a one-party state and the identity of the party changes depending on the region.     Very few areas are really two-party in November.

 Is low voter turnout for primaries a problem?   I think it is in the long run because it reduces the legitimacy of the outcomes.    On the other hand, I don't want to pester uninformed people to show up at the polls.   If they don't bother to inform themselves, maybe it is better to leave the decision on who should run things to those citizens who care enough to get informed.   So low turnout is not the worst possible outcome, but its not the best either.   A healthy political system would have high voter turnout when elections were really decided.  Over most of the state, they are decided in the primary and turnout is low and getting lower.

At this rate, primary voting will soon consist largely of three groups 1) the insiders and special interest voters 2) Activists and 3) friends and family of candidates.  As long as this trend continues, we need to recruit a few more activists, who need to recruit a few more candidates.   Last night, in state races, the activists won almost all of them, so that's good.    Where the Arkansas Watch list of Top-Ten and Bottom Ten List of state legislators were in races, the good guys mostly won and the bad guys had trouble. Arktimes did not like it.

Analysis continued on the jump.....

13 Comments:

Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Several members of our "worst ten" list tried to move up to higher office with mixed results. Clark Hall was the rated #3 on the worst list. He will be in a run-off with Scott Ellington, but Ellington was less than 1% away from winning it outright in a three way race.

Hall faces an almost impossible task to be the democratic nominee to take on Tea-Party turncoat Rick Crawford in the first district. His political career may be over, and that is a good thing.

10:46 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

In NWA there was a big battle between the insiders and activists for several legislative slots, and the activists won them all! Realtor Bart Hester powered by liberal Republican Rep. Tim Summers to win State Senate district one.

In that last link I provided, near psychotic leftist Max Brantley wails about how terrible it is that voters rejected Tim Summers EVEN THOUGH GOVERNOR BEEBE DREW THE DISTRICT TO FAVOR HIM.

Does that tell you everything you need to know about that race? We have a democratic governor redrawing district lines with the purpose of insuring the "right" republicans win.

At the higher levels, it is clear that some Democrats and Republicans are in cahoots, and that the party labels are only in place to fool the electorate into thinking they have a choice. Increased grassroots involvement with the rise of the Washington County Tea Party (about half of whose members are from Benton County!), Secure Arkansas, AFP, Conservative Arkansas and the like are busting that plan open in NWA.

10:56 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Let me give an exact Brantley quote for my claim above concerning the Summers-Barton race..."A powerful win for wing nuttery against a well-liked candidate with friends at Walmart and a district drawn by Gov. Beebe to help Summers."

This fits with my thesis that the insiders who run each party get along with each other better than they do with the outsiders in their own parties.

In the Democratic party, such outsiders are few and far between, but grassroots activism on the Republican side of the ledger has resulted in a fierce hidden battle between the insiders of both parties and the people who are working, successfully last night, to take back their government.

11:00 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Speaking of Republicrat collusion, State Senator Bill Pritchard and his running buddy former State Senator Gilbert Baker led the way in Republican Senators who hosted a campaign re-election fundraiser for DEMOCRAT state senator Larry Teague.

Baker was rated as one of our ten worst state legislators for his propensity to cut deals with Democrats and political throats (often from behind) in his own party. His robo-calling for Pritchard was not enough, as he went down to Rep. Jon Woods in a hard fought primary where conservative activists made the difference.

These candidates understand clearly that they owe their victory to the grassroots, and not the establishment machine that supported the other candidates. In the Summers-Hester race for example, not only did Democrat Mike Beebe draw the district lines to favor Summers (according to Max Brantley) but Republican Icons Tim Hutchinson and John Paul Hammerschmidt robo called for him too!

Again, this supports my thesis that the insiders of the two parties help each other and work against attempts at reform from the grassroots of either party.

We look forward to a Jon Woods in the Senate who is even more illuminated as to who his friends are- and are not.

11:09 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

The number one and number two on our "Ten Best List" from last time were Representatives David Meeks and Bryan King. If the grassroots and the establishment were not at odds, then you might expect that neither of this men would have even gotten a primary challenge. Both did.

Meeks easily dispatched a challenger for his house seat. King was term limited and moved up for a senate seat. He managed to narrowly win the nomination. We will also look forward to more good work from those men.

11:13 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

#2 on the "Worst Ten" list was Rep. Eddie Cheatham of Crossett. Only in a legislature which included Percy Malone could Cheatham fail to attain #1 on the worst legislator list.

He was term limited and also choose to step up for a senate seat. The three way race resulted in a run-off between him and Greg Reep. It should be a close one. I probably would have already gotten a campaign contribution to Reep in the mail if the winner did not have to face a good Republican candidate (Mike Akin) in what should be a GOP year. Cheatham should be easier for Akin to beat than Reep.

However it ends, I hope the result is that legislators and citizens are spared the abuse of another state committee chaired by Cheatham.

11:24 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

The news was not all good though. #4 on the worst legislator list was Sen. Joyce Elliot of LR. It is said that in a Democracy, people get the representation they deserve, and the people of her district apparently want Joyce Elliot.

I see it as a district that has a lot of people in it that are out of touch with moral and economic reality, and have a lot of trouble in their lives because of it. Rather than change their ways, they find it more pleasant to indulge in delusions about how it is someone else's fault and the government can fix it all. When that's what you believe, you vote Elliot.

11:30 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Justin Harris made our "Best Ten" list. Like Meeks, he drew primary opposition, and like Meeks he won handily. Many suspect that his opponent was a really a Democrat who was running as a Republican because that is how you win up here. In other words, Tim Summers and Bill Pritchard were not the only candidates the establishment has set up to run as nominal republicans that really act in concert with the Democrats.

I believe this has happened and is happening more than people guess. It is just now being exposed, and is increasingly not working for them.

11:36 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

In the district 93 race, most activists were behind Jim Dotson, and Dotson prevailed in a narrow race over Duane Neal. Dotson is actually a relative of mine by marriage and we were all behind him, but to me this was one of those races where you hate it that anybody had to lose. There were two good men in the race, and the one the activists backed was the one that prevailed.

11:38 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

For many of the judicial offices, there was really no one to vote for, but in the couple that there were, the guys the grassroots backed won. I am speaking of Brad Karren and Kenneth Hixon. The judiciary is very over looked in this state, and there are things structurally we could and ought to do to change that. Hopefully starting a task force specifically to look at/ recruit judicial candidates is one of the next things on the agenda.

11:41 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

The good news continued right down to the local level. After many tries, Kelly Cradduck won the nomination for Benton County Sheriff. It is time to see what he can do with it.

In Washington County there was a hotly contested ballot issue over a tax increase to fund mass transit. The Kellars and the Washington County Tea Party, along with Conservative Arkansas, fought hard against the special interests. They fought both smart and hard. When you do that, the result is often victory and they got an overwhelming victory as the tax was rejected almost 2-1.

Yes friends, this was the best state election night I have seen in a while.

11:46 AM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Scott Widen said...

I enjoyed your post and agree that the race between Dotson and Neal was one that both were good men and it is sad that one of them had to lose.

I know this was about the State government races and wanted to say that it was a good election night. The only thing that would have made it a better night is if we could have had someone go up against Steve Womack, he has been one of the most disappointing Congressman this year in Arkansas and looking forward to the day we vote him out!

12:51 PM, May 23, 2012  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

I did not even want to think about the federal results and the votes ALL of the Arkansas delegation made. It would have cast a sour note on an otherwise good report!

5:32 PM, May 23, 2012  

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