by Max Brantley
Turns out I missed a callback yesterday from Jason Shepherd, who was executive campaign manager for Republican Jim Holt's Senate bid in 2004. He got 44 percent of the vote to Blanche Lincoln's 56 percent, spending about $125,000 (counting a primary) to her $6.5 million.
Shepherd called back today, responding to a message I'd left for Holt at his home. Of Holt's potential candidacy, he said:
“He’s moved from consideration of running to the fund-raising phase. He’s gotten a few unsolicited donations. A few people other than me have been encouraging him to run because they’re not all that excited about the other candidates.”
Shepherd said Holt had received some unsolicited mailed contributions (not banked yet, apparently, and thus perhaps arguably outside any need for reporting) and he’s also “feeling out” others who might make pledges. He said that in two to three weeks Holt should decide if he has sufficient commitments to make a race.
Shepherd is volunteering services to answer media calls. An engineer who lives in Springdale, he said “politics is more of a hobby.”
ALSO: There's discord in Republican ranks because Gilbert Baker seems to enjoy official support from the National Republican hierarchy. On the other hand, Baker enjoys nothing but heaps of abuse from a small cadre of hard-rightists among Arkanasas Republicans, led by Debbie Pelley. Pelley's Women's Action Group argues, risibly, that Baker is a liberal. The group in part relies on rankings of the Arkansas Citizens First Congress, but interprets the rankings loosely, to put it mildly. Her group's unhappiness is mentioned in the linked article. Bill Kopsky of Citizens First provides a fuller perspective:
They say we rated Baker as the most liberal Republican in the AR Senate. There are so few contested floor votes in the Senate that there are not huge score differences between top and bottom scorers. We scored Baker as voting with the CFC position 77.8% of the time, the same as fellow Republican Johnny Key of Mountain Home, and Democrat Barbara Horn of Texarkana. In contrast, the lowest score in the Senate was a 72.1 (Republican Sharon Trusty of Russellville) and the highest was a 94.4% (shared by Democrats Joyce Elliott of Little Rock and Sue Madison of Fayetteville). There were two Democrats with lower scores than Baker (Teague and Taylor), and all 6 other Republicans in the Senate. Also note that we are cited as a liberal group in the article, but we are in fact non-partisan and have worked closely with several Republican lawmakers and Governor Huckabee on issues as varied as agriculture, election laws and ethics in government. We have of course worked with many Democrats as well.
I'm glad to see people using our vote guide to see how lawmakers voted on the issues. It'd be great to see some of the issues we work on become issues in the campaign, like closing the achievement gap, tax reform, rural economic development, clean water, climate change or civil rights. It's important to remember that the Guide's overall scores only give a general impression of lawmakers' performance. It's far more telling to look at the individual votes and ask individual lawmakers why they voted the way they did on each issue. The legislature is more complicated than what a vote guide can capture, but it is a useful place to start. You can find the guid at www.CitizensFirst.org
The Arkansas Citizens First Congress is a coalition of grassroots communities and allies working together to establish a strong public voice to influence political and policy decisions and ensure accountability. We seek to expand opportunities and improve the quality of life for EVERYONE in Arkansas.