Forget about the Hillary is Coming in 2016 theme that some Arkansans utter when considering the slide into Red State Republicanism.
It’s now or never in 2014.
Mike Ross’ race for governor is critical. But even more important in a state with a structurally weak governor (majority vote veto override, for one thing) is the balance of power in the state House of Representatives. With a bare 51-vote majority in 2013 and a sane Republican speaker, Republicans still marched resolutely forward on GOP agenda items, from suppressing minority votes to curbing rights of women to cutting taxes on the wealthy.
With a solidified majority after 2014 (the Senate is not in reach for Democrats), we become Oklahoma and Alabama.
Democrats are raising money, recruiting candidates and taking comfort from a higher number of term-limited Republicans and some districts where historic voting patterns don’t automatically line up against them. Is it enough to regain the House? November will tell. Critical will be seats where pickups are possible.
One seat Democrats are targeting is House District 32 in western Little Rock, held by term-limited Republican Rep. Allen Kerr. Democrats thought they had a potential winner in 2012 with former City Director Barbara Graves. She ran a strong campaign, but Kerr finished with a comfortable win. Nonetheless, a Democrat won a JP race against a solid Republican candidate in the same area.
This year? John T. Adams, a young lawyer who made a Democratic race for Congress four years ago, has been running hard. Jim Sorvillo, an extreme-right Republican, is in the race. He’s been a JP, but lost a 2012 race for Senate, a bigger district that includes some strong Democratic areas. Now comes a Republican challenger, Mrs. Pat Hays, a lawyer. The “Mrs.” is not my sexist invention, but was used in her announcement press release, to avoid confusion, I’d guess, with the Patrick Henry Hays running for Congress as a Democrat. She invokes the GOP mantra, “conservative values,” in paragraph two. Farther along, though, she also says the legislature needs “thoughtful, reasonable” members. Do I infer too much in seeing this as a reference to her Republican primary opponent? It certainly isn’t a reference to Adams, who undoubtedly differs politically with Hays on many issues but who is nothing if not thoughtful and reasonable.
She has been a deputy city attorney, a Southwestern Bell attorney and general counsel for Vestcom International, a retail marketing company. She’s been active in Republican politics, including a couple of years as Arkansas GOP counsel.
I hate to help the Republicans, but truth is that Sorvillo would be the better candidate. For a Democratic pickup.
The debate on Obamacare and the private option might be interesting in the Republican primary. Sorvillo inveighed against it in all forms in 2012. Thoughtful and reasonable Republicans led the legislative battle to implement it in Arkansas in a hybrid form.
PS — I’ve been reminded that Hays lost a race to Wayne Gruber for Pulaski district judge. The name didn’t help her in NLR.