Soon enough, if not immediately, the next epoch of the Arkansas political cycle begins. The Huckabee era is over. It will be followed by the Beebe era, which begins with Democratic dominance not matched in a decade..
A huge question here and nationally is where the Republican Party goes next.
Clint Reed, executive director of the Arkansas Republican Party and a numbers guy who looks like a genius when the playbook runs right but who can't fix a bad candidate, gives his thoughts on the future in a letter we've reprinted on the jump. Reed and many others had a tough assignment in 2006 -- an unpopular president, an unpopular war, a corrupt one-party government in Washington, a self-aggrandizing wannabe president in LR who cared little except about his own self.
"Bent but not broken." Yes. "Reform within our party." Willling to learn? We shall see.
CLINT REED LETTER
Dear GOP Supporters:
Voters sent a convincing message Tuesday evening. Furthermore, the people of Arkansas spoke clearly about the future leaders of Arkansas. These facts are indisputable.
Today, I received several phone calls concerning the future of the Arkansas GOP. Let me say without hesitation, our party is "bent, but not broken."
This election cycle we recruited a record number of candidates, built a solid statewide organization, made 1 million volunteer voter contacts, and mailed 1 million pieces of literature. We did many good things while maintaining the integrity of our organization. In summary, the institutional programs of our party are solid.
Over the next several weeks, our party has some very difficult decisions to make. However, as a party, we must move forward with caution and hesitancy. We must ask ourselves some tough questions. Were Tuesday's elections a referendum on the Republican Party of Arkansas organization? or, was it part of a bigger political shift? We all may disagree on the answers to those questions.
In my humble opinion, the future direction of our party must be considered with caution and togetherness - not divisiveness. Most importantly, we must adhere to the message that voters sent Tuesday evening. We must refocus our conservative principles of less government, lower taxes, less regulation, strong national defense, judicial restraint, and fiscal conservatism.
The Republican Party of Arkansas has a strong foundation and a philosophy that works. We just have to recommit ourselves to better serving the Arkansas people. We need to listen to the voters and hold ourselves and our party to the highest principles.
Undoubtedly, there was a tidal wave of support for Democrats last evening at the national, state, and local levels. As Republicans, we should listen to the voters and re-commit ourselves to reform within our party, especially at the state and local level.
What is the future of the Republican Party of Arkansas? I believe the answer is three-fold. One, it is imperative that we maintain financial viability. We must continue to institutionalize those things that were effective (i.e., voter registration and voter identification) during this election cycle. Furthermore, there are elections every two years.
Two, again, we must listen to the message that the voters sent and provide real reform within our party. We must be an inclusive party that is not relegated to fractional or regional ideologues.
Three, and maybe the most important - politics is cyclical. Therefore, we must continue to improve our political tactics and institutionalize the things that worked and be better prepared for a much more favorable political environment.
The worst days of the Arkansas GOP are behind us, and the best days of the Arkansas GOP are ahead of us. However, we must all re-commit to serving that cause which is far greater than ourselves.
If I can be of assistance to anyone during this time, please do not hesitate to contact me at 501-372-7301.
With kind regards,