Rick Crawford, a Jonesboro agri broadcaster, has formed an exploratory committee to consider a Republican race against U.S. Rep. Marion Berry. He likes farmers and soldiers. Doesn't like taxes and helping GM. (Wonder how he likes socializing chicken plants, as Republican and Democratic governors alike seem to favor? No need to ask how he feels about government payments to farmers. But, see, they are so much more efficient. Than can produce big crops with so many fewer employees, non-union employees, than an automaker requires.)
A political observer in Northeast Arkansas assesses the candidacy:
Rick Crawford is in all sense a business man, he’ll propose an idea and if it is feasible with the support of the people then he will follow through with it. On past endeavors, he has been precise on setting up the ground work for a project, promoting it to the media, and if support doesn’t take off then he won’t follow through with something that is going to be a dud. I'm thinking that exploratory with Rick means " Hey I will put my name out there, you raise me some $$$$$$$$$$, and if u raise enough I might run". This is a big step on his part as he'll catch some flak from his agriculture clients, because Marion is still considered by some the Conservative Golden Boy of Arkansas Agriculture.
Members of the Appropriations Committee are always hard to unseat. However, I wouldn’t say that Marion is rock solid these days when it comes to Conservative values and Agriculture. First, there are grumblings within his group of supporters and staff that he is falling inline behind Nancy Pelosi when he votes. Second, Marion in the last few years has moved away from mainly focusing on agriculture and more to appropriations and using his seat on approps for “bringing the bacon home” on pet projects. The Agriculture LA (Legislative Assistant) he has now is the first Non-Arkansan Agri person in a long time. The young man previously worked for a Blue Dog Colorado Congressman dealing with conversation, water, and livestock issues. His previous experience of knowing how to wrangle lobbyists, being an already familiar face to the Ag committee, and having a working relationship with the National Farmers Union (NFU) is what made him desirable to Berry. Marion’s strongest backer, Big Agri, is disenfranchised right now, the nation’s lending problems are hurting farmers and the new enviro-centric administration seems to be focusing on Midwest/Great Plains Agriculture. Farm Groups, like Farm Bureau, where Marion had lots of pull in the last few years, now have to share a seat with groups like the NFU and others that are more conservation focused. His “bacon laden” pet projects like the “Big Dig” are all but dead in the current administration. These are all problems that Marion can’t fix, and could be exploited by the right opponent.
All it would take for Rick Crawford to have a better than slim chance is for the EPA to try to push water/fertilizer regulations on the rice farmers, congress to push/pass an assault rifle ban, the Arkansas GOP to find someone to paint MB as Pelosi’s guaranteed “Yes” vote, and for grain prices to drop like a rock. However, that is all about as likely to happen as one of our Former Governors getting his own show on the food network. Crawford would need a highly organized and effective campaign staff that could effectively deliver thought provoking data on Berry that Tommy Robinson and Stubby Stumbaugh could not. Any heavyweight campaigners that the Arkansas GOP will have at their disposal are likely to end up with the Griffin/Baker Campaign for Senate. It’s a long shot, but maybe Huckabee would loan some of his resources to Crawford, both make their living from broadcast media, and Crawford was working radio media in Jonesboro at the same time as the Governor’s son.
So, Marion Berry will be around until farm subsidies dry up. When Berry finally heads back to Gillette, his spot will most likely be taken over by Former Secretary Rodney Slater, but a few people besides the Former Secretary of Transportation will throw their names in for the spot. Dustin McDaniel, Denny Sumpter, Robert Thompson, Chris Thyer, and even Jason Willett have all been names that have been tossed around. McDaniel will depend on the outcome of his bid for Governor in 2014 and if there is not a US Senate seat up for grabs. Sumpter just suffered a image damaging loss in his primary race for State Senate, but Thompson along with Thyer could be promising if either one can gain more name recognition. Willett has been the long time favorite of some as he was once Marion’s point man in the 1st District, but his sudden departure in 2007 as Chairman of the DPA, combined with a highly unsuccessful/expensive bid for the Jonesboro Mayoral seat and a reputation for loose spending habits may have dropped him from a decent chance.
An assault weapons ban during the 11th Congress is more likely than a republican taking NEA.