Analyze THIS: 50-State Survey for 2006 - Arkansas

(Crossposted from http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/16/ 13536/5470)

Hey Kossacks,

I'm very sorry about not being able to update my 2006 survey last week as I had promised. I had written the article for Arkansas on Friday and was about to post it when - my computer crashed. As I had typed it here and not on Word, I lost the entire article. Not being the recuperative type, it's taken me until today (I'm off from school) to redo the article. So, enjoy! (And California will be later this week)

In addition, I've realized that if I continue at my current rate, some states will complete their primaries before I write about them, thus eliminating candidates worthy of discussion. That has already occured in Illinois, for example. My plan, if it meets with your approval, is to profile the states BEFORE their primaries, and then do a national survey once all of them are completed. Let me know what YOU Think in the poll below.

ARKANSAS
2004 Vote: Bush 54, Kerry 44
Key Issue: Jobs and the state of the Economy

Governor: Open Seat (Mike Huckabee, R running for President?)
Asa Hutchinson (R) vs. Mike Beebe (D)
http://www.mikebeebe.com/

This may come as a surprise, but Arkansas has one of the most Democratic delegations on both the state and federal levels; with the exceptions of Governor Huckabee, Lt. Governor "Win" Rockefeller and Congressman John Boozman, the Democratic Party is dominant in Arkansas. Over 70% of the state legislators are Democrats as well, and while many of them are moderates, they also represent constituencies that are fairly moderate as well. On occasion, Republicans have slipped into office and stayed there with the power of incumbency, but they have failed to shift Arkansas' power base from the Democrats.

Huckabee is a special case in point. The other "famous" son of Little Rock (the other being a certain ex-President), he was narrowly elected Lt. Governor in 1993 over a Democratic candidate badly mauled in the primary. Then, when Bill Clinton's successor, Jim Guy Tucker resigned over his role in the Whitewater scandal, Huckabee become the top dog in the state. He's held the job ever since, winning 53-47% in 2002. But Huckabee, now 100 pounds thinner than when he started his job (He's led a well-publicized weight-loss program in the state, starting with himself) is term-limited, leaving his seat open. Which is fine with him, as he appears to be planning a White House run.

For now, this has put his Governorship into severe jeopardy for the Republicans. Lt. Governor Winthrop "Win" Rockefeller, the son of the state's 1st Republican Governor since Reconstruction and a relative of VP Nelson Rockefeller was scheduled to square off against former Congressman and Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson. But Hutchinson, the brother of ex-US Senator Tim Hutchinson caught a tragic break when Rockefeller was diagnosed with a rare blood condition known as unclassified myeloproliferative disorder. As I write, Rockefeller is in Seattle recovering from a second attempt at a bone marrow transplant, the first having failed to stop the disease. Needless to say, he dropped out of the race last fall when it was first diagnosed, leaving Hutchinson with the nomination. You can write Rockefeller a note at winrock@state.ar.us and wish him the best in his recovery.

The Democrats, too recently averted a primary, as Attorney General Mike Beebe (a veteran public servant and a reportedly strong campaigner) cleared the field in March. Bill Halter, a former Commissioner on the Social Security Board with President Clinton dropped down to the Lt. Governor's slot, making the race a Beebe-Hutchison one. A new Rasmussen Reports poll shows Beebe ahead by a 49-38% margin, and brand-new fundraising totals show him outraising Hutchinson 2:1, not to mention having a 2.5/1 cash on hand advantage. Beebe's website prominently features his plans to revive Arkansas' economy, which like much of the country is under pressure from outsourcing and the aging job force. Hutchinson has been concentrating on social issues, which a Republican needs to emphasize to win in this Southern state. Still, national discontent and Beebe's strong, early edge make it likely that Arkansas will have a Democratic Governor in 2007.
My ranking: Leans Democratic (PICKUP)

Lt. Governor: Open (Win Rockefeller, R retiring)
Winner of Republican Primary vs. Winner of Democratic Primary

http://www.halterforarkansas.com/
http://www.mikehathorn.com/
http://www.jaymartin2006.com/
http://www.timwooldridge.com/

The race to succeed Rockefeller was on even before the Lt. Governor tragically withdrew from the gubernatorial contest. The addition of Halter to the already-crowded Democratic side has made him the frontrunner in polls, but also the target of the other three Dems in the race. State Senator Tim Wooldridge, State House Majority Leader Jay Martin and 2001 Congressional nominee Mike Hathorn (he narrowly lost a bid to succeed Hutchinson when the latter went to work for the Bush Administration) have all turned their guns on Halter in an attempt to make the race closer. A brand-new Survey USA Poll has Halter ahead of Wooldridge by a 41-20% margin, with Hathorn at 14% and Martin at 6%. With the primary next Tuesday, it looks as if Halter's switch from Governor to Governor-Lite will pay off.

Halter will likely face Jim Holt, an arch-conservative State Senator who lost to US Senator Blanche Lincoln in 2004. Holt, who got 44% in his losing race, has far wider name recognition because of it than either of his two primary opponents, State Rep. Doug Matayo and ex-US Attorney Chuck Banks. He leads them both with 57% in the SUSA poll.

A Halter-Banks race will depend largely on the Beebe-Hutchinson race, as neither man has the statewide reputation or popularity that Rockefeller had. In Arkansas, the LTG runs separately from the Governor in the general election; while Huckabee got 53% in 2002, Rockefeller got 60%. And with the polls showing Beebe ahead, I've got to believe that Halter (should he get the nod) will go along with him.
My ranking: Leans Democratic (PICKUP)

Attorney General: Open seat (Beebe running for Governor)
Winner of Democratic primary vs. Gunner DeLay (R)

http://www.herzfeldforag.com/
http://dustinmcdaniel.com/
http://www.paulsuskie.com/

The battle to replace Beebe for the Democrats is between State Representative Dustin McDaniel, Saline County DA Robert Herzfeld and Iraq War Veteran/North Little Rock City Attorney Paul Suskie. All three men have experience with the law, are between 30 and 35 age-wise and are competing for a job that may well lead to the Governorship, as it did for Bill Clinton and possibly Beebe. With no polling done on this race (as far as I know), all I can say is that having gone to all three campaign sites and read the information available there, I will honestly say that whoever Arkansas Kossacks pick will not be a bad choice. Just remember to vote next Tuesday!

The Republican nominee's name may sound a tad familiar. That's because Gunner DeLay is, in fact, a cousin of (soon to be ex) Congressman Tom DeLay, R-soon to be VA. In fact, ties to his cousin have hurt Gunner in politics already; in 2001 he lost to Boozman in the GOP primary to succeed Hutchinson thanks in part to Tom's reputation in the state next-door. Having DeLay as the GOP nominee (no other Republican filed) will not help the GOP's cause in this race, and may cause other Republicans to stay away from Gunner in the general election. Look for whoever wins the Democratic nod to win easily in November.
My ranking: Safe Democratic

Secretary of State: Charlie Daniels (D Inc.) vs. Jim Lagrone (R)
Daniels crushed Janet Huckabee, the Governor's wife in the 2002 race, and faces an unknown in Lagrone in 2006. The result should be no different.
My ranking: Safe Democratic

State Auditor Jim Wood and Land Commissioner Mark Wilcox are unopposed - and both are Democrats! Good work, gentlemen!

FEDERAL RACES
AR-01: Marion Berry (D Inc.) vs. Mickey "Stubby" Stumbaugh (R)

http://www.marionberry.com/

Berry, despite having a name eerily similar to ex-DC Mayor Marion Barry is a popular incumbent, winning his 2004 race with 66%. He won't have any problems against Stumbaugh, a small-town Mayor and police officer, even if "Stubby" is a cool nickname...maybe.
My ranking: Safe Democratic

AR-02: Vic Snyder (D Inc.) vs. Tom Formicola (R) or Andy Mayberry (R)

http://www.snydercampaign.com/

Snyder won with 58% in 2004 against a decent opponent, meaning that in any normal cycle he might be slightly vulnerable. Not in 2006, however. Formicola, a wealthy health care executive who lost to Holt in the 2004 US Senate primary, will square off next week with Mayberry, a former member of the Huckabee administration. A SUSA poll showed Formicola and Mayberry tied in the high 30s last month. Regardless of who wins, Snyder is a lock based on the national climate alone.
My ranking: Safe Democratic

AR-03: John Boozman (R Inc.) vs. Woodrow Anderson III (D)
http://www.woodrowanderson.com/

Boozman won with 59% in 2004 against a potentially strong opponent. However, she failed to raise sufficient money to attract national attention. The same is likely to occur with Anderson, a businessman and Army Reserve officer who entered the race late. The difference in political climates certainly doesn't help Boozman; however, his incumbency and lack of major focus on his race should be sufficient to give him an easy victory. Don't be surprised, however if Boozman finishes between 55 and 60% in November.
My ranking: Safe Republican

AR-04: Mike Ross (D Inc.) vs. Joe Ross (R)
http://www.ross4congress.com/

Congressman Ross won a top-tier race in 2000 over then-Congressman Jay Dickey, and has solidified his position since. After whipping Dickey with 60% in a 2002 rematch, he was unopposed in 2004. The young, talented moderate should have no problems against his similarly-named rival in November.
My ranking: Safe Democratic

Later this week: California.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/10/ 201252/842 (Arizona's Analysis) http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/7/1 94820/0299 (Alabama and Alaska's Analysis)

Tags: 2006, Arkansas, Elections (all tags)

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