Category Archives: Arkansas

BOOK REVIEW: “The Dixiecrat Revolt and the End of the Solid South, 1932-1968” by Kari Frederickson, 336 pages, UNC Press


Reviewed by Gregg Hilton
This is an important and thought provoking book. The author is a professor of history at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, and her effort resulted in the Harry Truman Book Award from the Truman Presidential Library. She is a liberal but there is no bias in her account of this period.
The Dixiecrats (or southern Democrats) were predominantly conservative, but the movement also included many racists. She accurately quotes them and that was enough to prove her point. Her account begins with Franklin Roosevelt’s election in 1932, but as she readily acknowledges, the Democratic Party’s Solid South really began with the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Continue reading

Arkansas Senate Race: Far Too Many Conservatives Are Wasting Their Vote on Trevor Drown by Gregory Hilton

Congressman John Boozman (R) has a significant lead over Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D).

The election is 19 days away but in Arkansas the result of the U.S. Senate race is already apparent. Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D), the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee, will be defeated in her bid for re-election by Rep. John Boozman (R). Continue reading

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) Was Defeated The Day Obama Was Elected by Gregory Hilton

Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) has been running behind in her re-election campaign all year. No one expects her to be re-elected, but in a poll out today she is losing by an astronomical 65% to 27% margin. Lincoln has not committed any crime and she is not among the top Senate liberals. She has not made any serious errors, but organized labor and liberal activist groups spent over $10 million on a primary campaign to defeat her.
The message from Arkansas is that Blanche Lincoln was defeated on the day Barack Obama was elected. The President is radioactive in Arkansas and his approval rating is now at a dismal 31%. The GOP now has one Congressional seat but they are expected to capture 75% of the House delegation in November. Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) is more liberal than Lincoln and he is very pleased that he does not have to face the electorate until 2014.
Lincoln inflicted a major wound on herself the day she became the deciding vote on ObamaCare. If she voted no, it meant risking defeat in a primary, but by voting yes she sealed her doom in the general election. Prior to the health care vote she was considered a competent centrist. Once she voted for ObamaCare the tide turned swiftly and devastatingly against her.

The GOP Tsunami Will Start in Arkansas by Gregory Hilton

When the story of the 2010 election is written, ground zero for the Obama backlash will be in Arkansas. Republicans will do well in other states, but anger directed toward the President and the liberal Congressional leadership is particularly intense in the Ozarks. Continue reading

Bye, Bye Blanche? – Liberal/Labor Alliance May Defeat Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) on Tuesday by Gregory Hilton

PHOTO: This ad from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce praises Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) for opposing the union card check legislation. Lincoln describes herself as a moderate blue dog Democrat.

On Tuesday, Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) may become the third U.S. Senator this year to be defeated for renomination. Senators Arlen Specter (D-PA) and Bob Bennett (R-UT) have already been rejected by their political parties.
A Research 2000/Daily Kos survey poll out today shows Lincoln, the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, losing to Lieutenant Gov. Bill Halter by a 49% to 45% margin. The same firm had the race tied a week ago, and this was the third poll which gave Halter the lead. Lincoln was ahead of Halter on primary night three weeks ago, but she was forced into a run-off because a third candidate received 13%.
The turnout on Tuesday will be far lower than on primary night, which will be an advantage for Halter because the most committed voters want a change. During the past two months, labor unions and members of liberal activist groups have spent more than $5 million backing Halter.
Groups such as Moveon.org, Progressive Change, Daily Kos and Democracy for America have provided over 60% of Halter’s budget and Moveon.org alone has raised $2.1 million for the liberal Lt. Governor.
Labor unions spent more than $5 million in the primary, and so far they have spent $2,405,745 in the runoff. This does not include hidden expenditures for mail, phones and other GOTV efforts. Lincoln provided the final vote to pass Obamacare, but that is not good enough for labor and the liberals.
They are blaming the Senator for killing the health care public option (she promised to lead a filibuster to stop it), as well as cap and trade. The liberal groups refer to Lincoln as “Bailout Blanche” and as a DINO (Democrat in Name Only).
Moveon.org claims Lincoln is protecting corporate interests and her vote in favor of TARP is frequently mentioned. They call TARP a “massive no-strings attached bailout for Wall Street,” and claim Lincoln “is stopping the Obama agenda.” However, President Obama fully supports Lincoln and has recorded a TV ad for her.
Former President Clinton visited the state on her behalf. Labor is upset because Lincoln will not support the union card check legislation, and the Service Employees International Union responded to the Obama endorsement with a point by point rebuttal.
If Lincoln does win on Tuesday her prospects this November are dismal according to a survey by the Markham Group. No U.S. Senator has ever been re-elected with similar poll numbers. Lincoln has a 34% job approval rating and 56% disapproval. Her favorability is even worse, at just 32%, compared to 57% unfavorable.
Her favorability and approvals are down eight and seven points, respectively, from the same poll just three months ago, while her unfavorables and her disapproval each rose by 11. That’s a net loss of nearly 20 points on each rating, and the rising negatives are particularly notable. President Obama’s approval in the poll is 37%, versus 61% disapproval. In 2008, Obama received only 39% of the Arkansas vote.
The bottomline is that this Democratic seat is now listed as “Safe Republican” by every political rating agency. Rep. John Boozman (R-AR) has been on Capitol Hill for a decade and has at least a 15 point lead over both Democrats. If Halter does win the primary, Boozman says he would be an even easier target in November.
As of now, Halter performs better than Lincoln in the head to head match ups with Boozman, but the main reason is because Halter’s views are not well known. Boozman would receive 66% of the vote against Lincoln and 60% against Halter.
However, many voters do not realize Halter is significantly to the left of Lincoln, and is definitely out of step with the current Arkansas viewpoint. Halter is emphasizing his strong support of Obamacare, but it is opposed by 72% of Arkansas residents. There are four congressional districts in the state and three of them are represented by Democrats. Republicans have an excellent chance of capturing three seats, and they could possibly gain all four.

Liberal Activitist Groups Enter Arkansas Senate Race by Gregory Hilton

I do not interfere with the opposition when they are in the process of destroying themselves, but conservative Republicans owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to liberal activist groups Moveon.org, Progressive Change, Daily Kos and Democracy for America. They are behind liberal Lt. Gov. Bill Halter’s (D-AR) primary challenge to moderate Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR). He announced his candidacy on March 1st and had raised over $800,000 the next day from these organizations!
TV ads are already on the air and all of this money is being used to attack Senator Lincoln. It is a dream come true for the Republican Party and the conservative agenda. This Senate seat will soon be in GOP hands. If Halter does upset Lincoln in the primary, he would be an even easier target in November. President Obama’s approval in the poll is 37%, versus 61% disapproval.
The past month was a good one for Senator Lincoln. She picked up 7 points and was making the race more competitive. Thanks to the national liberal organizations, an avalanche of negative attack ads are beginning and Republicans don’t have to pay for them. This is the change we can believe in.

The Social Conservatives vs. the Regular Republicans: The Battle for Iowa Has National Implications by Gregory Hilton

Because of its first in the nation presidential precinct caucuses, Iowa is often at the center stage of American politics. Statewide candidates are frequently linked to presidential contenders, and this year will be no different. A crucial battle is now being waged between social conservatives and regular Republicans, and it will culminate in the June 8th gubernatorial primary. Continue reading

The GOP Website Red State: Is It Too Partisan? By Gregory Hilton

As an active Republican I often visit the most prominent GOP website, Red State, http://www.redstate.com. I am an enthusiastic reader of GOP success stories, but I am often disappointed in the outlook of its hyper-partisan editor, Erick Erickson. Erickson appeared on five national television programs in the past two weeks.
His main message is to condemn the Republican leadership in the House and Senate, as well as any GOP lawmaker who will compromise in an effort to pass legislation. He wants campaign issues, not public policy.
A legislator who compromises is instantly labeled a RINO – a Republican in Name Only. There are times when party unity is essential, and the recent health care debate was one of them. All Republicans were united in their opposition. Also, this often happens on national security issues where Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) is usually the only GOP lawmaker to vote with the Democrats. I do not want to see Republicans cave in to Democratic demands, but I do not want to ignore our nations problems.
There was no spirit of cooperation in the health care debate and now our nation will be stuck with a very bad bill. Democrats made a mistake because the GOP alternative was constructive and would have been effective. My concern is that the Red State strategy will stop lawmakers from negotiating in the future.
John F. Kennedy was referring to the Soviet Union, but his words were wise, “Let us never negotiate out of fear, but let us never fear to negotiate.” I want the GOP to win by attracting independent voters and adhering to Ronald Reagan’s inclusive “Big Tent” philosophy. I am not in favor of any Republican purity test. The party needs to be focusing on addition to our ranks while Red State is often about subtraction from the GOP base.
The lead article in today’s Red State is “Bob Bennett: An Old Dog With an Old Schtick” by Erickson. The author claims Senator Bob Bennett (R-UT) is “the 8th most liberal Republican in the Senate from the most conservative state in the nation. He can and must be beaten. . . if the GOP is ever going to reclaim any credibility with the public they must stand for something other than creeping socialism. Bob Bennett must be defeated.”
Bennett has been in the Senate since 1992 and is best known as an advocate of the flat tax, free trade, and the Patriot Act. He has always been a strong opponent of public health care and has blamed government policies for the high cost of insurance. His cumulative lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union is 84%. His senior colleague, Orrin Hatch, has an 89% lifetime rating.
Erickson, 34, is annoyed because Senator Bennett does not agree with him that “The first duty of the opposition is to oppose.” Bennett believes “We have to be constructive,” and my recent article on the Marshall Plan emphasizes the benefits of working together in a bipartisan manner.
Unfortunately, many lawmakers in both parties no longer share that outlook. The current House and Senate is the most polarized since the Civil War, and far too many lawmakers define success by the failure of the other side. The goal is often obtaining a headline which will be embarrassing to the other side, rather than passing useful legislation.
I sincerely hope the Republican Party will make significant gains this November, but it is more important for our nation to succeed. I am opposed to practically all aspects of President Obama’s domestic agenda, but he is our Commander-in-Chief and he should be treated with respect. I am glad House Republicans are rejecting the Red State formula, and 95% of them are supporting the President’s 35,000 troop surge in Afghanistan.
Once again, I am opposed to Obamacare, but there are many essential health care reforms which have broad bipartisan support. They are being ignored in the current political climate. The cap-and-trade bill is awful, but our energy security needs should not be ignored. There will be no progress this year but I hope next year both parties will work together to advance nuclear power and off shore drilling.
There has been strong partisanship on Capitol Hill since the time of our founding fathers. This is evident in the writings of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. The certainly hated each other in the early 1800s, but they had come together to form the union and were later able to resolve their differences. That rarely happens today.
Former Senator David Pryor (D-AR) held statewide office for 22 years before his 1996 retirement. In a recent interview he discussed the changes he witnessed on Capitol Hill, “It is the lack of civility that worries me. Thirty years ago we never would have thought of going into a state and campaigning against one of our colleagues. We would not do that because we worked in a bipartisan manner. It would be difficult to join someone in the Senate Dining Room after you had just campaigned against them. We were not so partisan back then.”
Pryor also noted the disappearance of “plain old good manners.” Senator Al Franken (D-MN) is typical of the atmosphere today. He recently refused to allow Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT) “a moment” to conclude his remarks. I often see this on C-SPAN where lawmakers will not allow their colleagues to finish sentences. Part of the problem is the news media which encourages lawmakers to cram high voltage criticism into a 30 second sound byte. MSNBC has made attack dogs such as freshman Rep. Allan Grayson (D-FL) into national heroes for their partisan audience.
Every committee on Capitol Hill is divided along party lines. It is now rare for state Congressional Delegations to meet. Few lawmakers sit, plan, and work together for the benefit of their state or the nation. They instead work with their political friends.
The big procedural question for the GOP in January of 2011 will be selecting a proper legislative course. They will have to decide if they want to promote legislation which advances partisan goals or solves problems. My hope is that our lawmakers will focus on solving problems.