MIA: Tom Cotton choose the Koch brothers over tomatoes this year, though as a past photo shows, it draws most big-name Arkansas politicians. Steve Harrelson

In his column this week, Ernie Dumas reviews Republican Tom Cotton’s seamless voting record against government, no matter how worthy the program. It’s a fealty so strong that it lured Cotton to a Koch powwow in a high-dollar California hotel rather than the annual Bradley County Pink Tomato Festival where Arkansas politicians are expected to slurp tomatoes.

Here’s the nut of this election, Dumas writes:


If you polled Arkansans, you might find that a good majority of them hate or distrust the federal government, though many would qualify it to Barack Obama’s government. They would assent to the idea that government shouldn’t help the malingerers in society who have their hands out and won’t do what they need do to get better jobs and get ahead.

But here is the contest: Can they reconcile those appealing slogans about big and controlling government with their own dependency on programs like Medicare, Social Security, veterans’ health services and nutrition aid, or their moral support for many of the services of big government like disaster relief and tuition aid? Or, for that matter, for big government programs like food and drug safety that they count upon every day.

Keeping that distinction blurred is Tom Cotton’s big challenge. Better, it is Sen. Mark Pryor’s challenge to make it clear to voters that, however appealing the slogans, he, not Cotton, serves their self-interests.