Category Archives: Elections

State’s top Democrat: Stop ‘screaming about Trump’

Rep. Michael John Gray, D-Augusta, says Arkansas Democrats must focus on core issues such as health care, poverty and roads.
By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Michael John Gray can trace his family’s farming heritage in Woodruff County to the year after the Civil War ended. This being Arkansas, it’s a fair assumption that all those generations before him were Democrats. But then, the rest of the state back then was, too.

Gray, D-Augusta, finds himself part of a vanishing breed in the Legislature – rural, white Democrats, which describes somewhere between eight and a dozen of the 135 legislators, depending on how you define “rural.” It wasn’t long ago that it described virtually the entire Legislature, but now Democrats mostly represent the state’s urban areas and those with high minority populations. Overall, Democrats compose only 24 of the 100 members in the House of Representatives and only nine of the 35 senators.

Could Paul Spencer give Arkansas Democrats a shot?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District just got more interesting, perhaps even almost competitive, and it might point the way for Arkansas Democrats in other parts of the state.

Paul Spencer is forming an exploratory committee to run for that congressional seat as a Democrat. It’s currently occupied by Rep. French Hill, a Republican.

Spencer was a founder of the group Regnat Populus, which tried in 2012 to get an ethics reform measure on the ballot that would limit campaign contributions. The effort failed to collect enough signatures, but legislators did respond by placing on the 2014 ballot a wide-ranging “ethics” amendment passed by voters. It did limit campaign contributions as well as gifts by lobbyists to legislators, but it also snuck in a provision weakening term limits, a measure Spencer later criticized.

What matters: Voters’ view of the world

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

The news is about what’s new, but people’s worldviews are about what’s permanent, and that’s one of the things that makes it difficult to run for office as an Arkansas Democrat right now.

I write that sentence after a lot of news lately coming from the White House, where President Trump fired the FBI director investigating his campaign regarding the Russians, threatened that director by implying their conversations were secretly taped, and, according to press reports relying on anonymous sources, supposedly revealed to those Russians highly classified information.

News like that typically would spell trouble for a president, and indeed, the latest Gallup poll, conducted before the report about the classified information, showed Trump’s approval rating at 38 percent, down from 45 percent at the beginning of his term. By comparison, President Obama’s approval rating was 65 percent at this point.

Can The Centrist Project pioneer a new way?

By Steve Brawner
© 2017 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Forty-four percent of Americans are independents, according to Gallup, but only 2 percent of United States senators are, and one of those is Sen. Bernie Sanders, who’s really a Democrat. Could a few more independents form a decisive voting bloc that would force Republicans and Democrats to solve problems?

That’s a question Joel Searby and the other founders of The Centrist Project are trying to answer.

Searby ran the 2016 independent presidential campaign of Evan McMullen, a former Republican congressional staff member and ex-CIA officer who won 21 percent of the vote in Utah and 1 percent in Arkansas.

Now, Searby and others with The Centrist Project are trying to recruit and strategically fund credible independent candidates in 2018, with one focus being the U.S. Senate where they could make the most difference.