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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Predicting the Arkansas third district race

by Patrick Briney, President Arkansas Republican Assembly (ARRA): Northwest Arkansas third district conservatives are looking for a conservative champion to put in the U.S. House of Representatives. Eight candidates are in the running trying to convince the voters that they are conservative.

Sure enough, if you talk to each one, you find out that they claim to believe in Judeo-Christian values, in God given, inalienable rights, in self-government, in decentralized government, in national sovereignty, in free enterprise, in cutting taxes and wasteful spending, in the right to bear arms, in the sanctity of life from birth to cradle, in one man-one woman marriages, and in parental authority. All claim to possess excellent leadership skills. This is perhaps the finest field of conservative choices Northwest Arkansas has ever had.

The challenge for conservative voters is deciding which of these decent and conservative candidates will best represent them. A vote for one could easily be cast for another. In fact, it would interesting to hear from the candidates which candidate they would pick if they had to choose other than for themselves. Perhaps they can all work together to accomplish the conservative goals regardless of the outcome. After all, they all agree that conservative change is important enough to work hard for.

In an excellent and well organized April 17, 2010 debate, the candidates were given opportunity to set themselves apart from the pack. Other than for one panelist, Ed Bethune, overstepping his bounds and showing lack of control over his arrogance and contempt when telling Bernie Skoch how to use his time, the debate was vastly superior to the Senate debate held the same day.

Bernie Skoch, Kurt Maddox, Mike Moore, and Gunner Delay said what conservatives want to hear. Skoch showed his commitment to conservative principles over politics by condemning the reckless spending of both parties. Maddox stated that he did not support earmarks of any kind period, that all spending should be balanced with revenues, and that transparency was a priority. Moore said he threatened to veto every new tax increase presented to him while serving as Boone county judge and denied three attempts to raise taxes on his watch. He said budget problems are spending problems not income problems, and that voters should decide if they want to raise their taxes. Delay argued that it is not the business of the federal government to bail out states for irresponsible spending sprees. The Federal government does not belong in the health care business, car business, or the finance business.

Debate on the panel was highlighted by a spirited exchange between Delay and Womack. Womack challenged Delay with hypocrisy for sponsoring legislation in 2001 that raised compensation rates on businesses. Delay responded by saying he made a mistake in not looking for other ways to cover those costs.

Gunner challenged Womack for supporting Democrat Beebe as Governor. Womack responded saying that Beebe was a good man and a friend, and that he was a good choice for Arkansas and had no problem with him as a Governor. Matayo pointed out that one of the first things Beebe did was repeal legislation that would have saved Arkansans millions of dollars. Delay pointed out that Womack had said in his campaign that he favored building health clubs all over the country at tax payer expense. It was clear from the debate that Womack distinguished himself as one candidate who could support Democrats and justify ‘worthy’ tax increases.

Likewise, Matayo distinguished himself as a party man over principles. When asked if he supported legislation such as state sanctioned health care, Matayo side stepped the question by saying he did not favor state mandated health insurance. He went on to say that he believed it was important to stand by the party line and that people are better served by keeping disagreements within the party in the ‘cloak’ room. Conservatives will take note that a vote for Matayo is a vote for the party line even if he disagrees with it in private. To Matayo’s and Womack’s credit, they express what they believe.

Bledsoe is the lone female in the running. As an Arkansas representative and senator, she was challenged to defend her support of the cigarette tax, her spending of discretionary funds, and other new spending programs on her watch. Rather than express regret for supporting the cigarette tax, Bledsoe defended it. With regard to raising other taxes, she said that she could not remember if she supported new spending programs. This includes forgetting about her support for a new tax on milk, which would have increased the cost of milk. Ironically but fortunately, Democratic Gov. Beebe vetoed the bill saying that his goal was to reduce costs and taxes on food not to increase it. Not surprisingly, at a Tea Party rally, Bledsoe proclaimed her opposition to raising federal taxes. But conservatives will wonder if this means except for tax increases on cigarettes, milk, and any other ‘justifiable’ items to tax. Once one tax is justified, all taxes can be justified.

Candidate Steve Lowery also seems to find it justifiable to raise taxes at least for funding the war on drugs. As an experienced drug enforcement officer, he made it very clear that the DEA is underfunded by the government to adequately work with countries of Southeast Asia and Latin America. Conservatives would agree with him that illegal drug problems lead to more social problems and harm more innocent citizens. We do need to increase our success against illegal drugs. However, raising taxes is not the answer. Instead, a conservative solution is to reapportion taxes from government earmarks, waste, and redundant departments to the DEA.

For a field of conservative candidates, Skoch, Maddox, Moore, and Delay are left in the forefront. Skoch separates himself from the field with articulation and commanding leadership. Maddox vows to return half of his salary to charity. Moore states plainly, “We're taxed to death and the last thing we need is another tax. Our government does not have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem.” Delay brings political experience and a track record of challenging the party line when it violates conservative principles. Imagine if these four guys could work together.

Distinguishing between this pack-of-four comes down to political savvy and campaign leadership. Money wise, Moore has raised over $10,000 $27,000 for the 1st quarter*, Skoch over $18,000, and Delay over $31,000. A search for money raised by Maddox was unsuccessful. Poll wise, The Political Firm in Little Rock conducted a poll in early April using automated calls to survey 600 registered Arkansans likely to vote in the Republican primary. The results show Delay in the lead of the conservative-pack-of-four favored by 16 percent. Mike Moore had 8 percent of supporters; Skoch had 5 percent; Kurt Maddox 1 percent; and 27 percent were undecided. The remaining voters spread their support among the other four candidates. With a 4% margin of error in the poll, Delay is the decisive favorite.

Admittedly, many conservatives find themselves torn between a field of wonderful candidates, but only one can serve as Congressman. The choice is so painful that some voters are apologizing to candidates for supporting someone else due to earlier commitments. We take comfort that regardless of the outcome, if the winner keeps his promises, conservatives win. That is the predictable bottom line.
Dr. Patrick Briney serves as President of the Arkansas Republican Assembly and is founder of the Leadership Training Institute of America. Views expressed in this article are his own.
* Correction: Moore raised nearly $27,000 for the 1st quarter, not $10,000. The FEC report showed cash on hand of just over $10,000.

Tags: Patrick Briney, Arkansas Republican Assembly, Arkansas, Republican candidates, US Congress, 3rd Congressional District, AR-03, primary, To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 10:05 PM - Post Link


Anonymous Stefani Buhajla said...

Dark Horse Mike Moore Becomes A Contender

The Northwest Arkansas Times was right, Moore deserves a "closer look."

Bentonville,AR - Tonight, Third District Congressional candidate Boone County Judge Mike Moore took the opportunity to separate himself from the pack and further establish his position to be the Republican nominee at the last scheduled forum of the primary campaign season tonight.

At the last scheduled forum of the season sponsored by NWACC SIFE and the NWA Emerging Leaders, Judge Moore came out swinging. The first question asked of the candidates was what separates them from the others.

Moore was quick to point out that he does not support new taxes or tax increases even for something "so noble as a health-care center or a senior fitness facility." He added he does not support big labor unions and later stated he will "be held accountable only to the people of the Third District." When later asked about this statement Moore said , "if there is a market for a health center or a gym then the free market will fill that need. That is what capitalism and free market policies are about. We ought not send tax dollars to support more big government, big spending projects."

A new forum question not previously posed to the 8 congressional hopefuls asked how, if elected, each candidate would accomplish funding for highways in Northwest Arkansas. In an awkward moment, Sen. Cecile Bledsoe offered that the people could put a .25% sales tax on the ballot to pay for the highways, similar to the millage tax hike imposed in Bentonville in recent weeks.

Moore again seized the moment stating that taxes "are not the answer." He added that as Boone County Judge if road improvements were needed he would go into the budget, re-prioritize, and find the funds. Moore went on to say that we have become a right here, right now society and seem to forget that we still live in the best country in the world. He pointed out that he is in favor of safer roads and bridges but in a reasoned way that doesn't amount to an additional tax burden on the people.

Later candidates were asked how they would respond to the current federal budget crisis. Moore responded, "Congress does not have a revenue problem, they have a spending problem." As congressman Moore promised to slash budgets line by line and admitted that he "will not be the most popular guy [in D.C.]," but that "we need to send someone to Washington with a backbone." He followed up in another question on bi-partisanship that he will not compromise his morals or integrity to "get along," and he will find like-minded conservatives to work for "what's right."

Moore also led the pack on the topic of illegal immigration and education. He told the large audience that people who are in this country illegally should not have access to college scholarships or any taxpayer funded programs across the board. Moore also stated that we need to look at ways for the states to expand on-line distance learning and college courses offered to high-school seniors as a way to reduce the overall cost of college tuition.

Mr. Moore has set himself apart in this race and moved from a dark-horse candidate to a contender. Moore has demonstrated a command of the issues and is unafraid to take on tough challenges with a compassionate but firm stand. He is squarely in the running for the May 18th primary. Moore has become the candidate to watch.

Anonymous Patrick Briney said...

I like what Moore has to say, but he is a long shot. I think he and his supporters should help NWA conservatives win by getting behind Delay.

Here is the URL for the FEC numbers up through April 28/2010

Gunner Delay, $84,797 receipts
Mike Moore, $34,451 receipts


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