by Max Brantley
It's a slow day. So I'll pass along a memo from Alice Stewart, Sen. Gilbert Baker's campaign manager in his Republican race for the U.S. Senate nomination, on Baker's strategy to win.
The memo doesn't mention by name a certain candidate, the presumptive front-runner, though it does mention several times why Baker is a much better pick than Jim Holt, beaten by Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2004. The document does make a reference to the front-runner, John Boozman, in the counterintuitive pitch that the best candidate is not from Yellow Dog Republicanland, the 3rd District, but a candidate with crossover appeal elsewhere (that would be Baker). The emphasis on the ills of Washington and bailout voters is also aimed at Boozman.
Baker has decided, it seems to me, that the angry and irrational are the swing votes in this Republican primary and he has resolved to get them.
He ought to mention more directly something I believe he could argue believably: Sen. Blanche Lincoln's best hope for re-election (if she defeats Bill Halter in the primary) is the Republican nomination of U.S. Rep. John Boozman. He was a willing accomplice in George W. Bush's out-of-control, red ink-splattered fiscal policy. He bailed out the Wall Street billionaires. He's addicted to pork. He's a corporate lackey. Baker is no less unreasonable than Boozman on the usual social issues, but he SEEMS more reasonable and warmer in general. Lincoln matches up better against Boozman than just about any other candidate.
Conway, Ark. -- With a second television ad on the air, the Baker for US Senate Campaign follows up with a letter to conservatives, re-enforcing the message that Gilbert Baker has the winning formula to be elected to the US Senate. Baker Campaign Manager Alice Stewart sent the following letter to supporters:
To: Republicans Who Believe Washington DC is Broken
From: Alice Stewart – Baker for US Senate Campaign Manager
Subject: Why Gilbert Baker is the Best GOP Candidate to Win the Arkansas Senate Race!
I) Washington is Broken! – Washington is broken and Congress is the problem. One of our opponents recently sent out a fundraising appeal asking, “Will you help me bring real change to Washington?” Well… it is hard to fix the problems with a Washington mindset.
If Republicans nominate a member of Congress to challenge Blanche Lincoln or Bill Halter, we lose the arguments that will be so vital in running against Washington. Voters are sick and tired of government involvement in their lives. For Republicans to win this Senate seat, we must sharply contrast big government bailouts, earmarks, out of control spending, and deep deficits with the Democrats. It will be very difficult to do that with someone who has voted for big government bailouts that gave million dollar bonuses to AIG executives and has supported millions of dollars in earmarks alongside Senator Lincoln.
Moreover, the “bailout” issue is not popular with Arkansas voters. In a recent internal survey of Republicans, over two-thirds would be less likely to support a Republican candidate for the United States Senate if they knew the Republican senate candidate had supported legislation to use taxpayer dollars to bailout failing financial institutions.
II) Conservative – Gilbert Baker is pro-life, has an A+ rating by the National Rifle Association, opposes earmarks, opposes bailouts, has helped cut taxes, and has a record of job creation. In addition, as Co-Chairman of Arkansas’ Joint Budget Committee, he has worked to balance Arkansas’s budget – a stark contrast to the massive deficits and spending taking place in Washington D.C. Gilbert Baker’s conservative roots go back to Barry Goldwater’s Presidential Campaign. He also was Ronald Reagan’s “Commitment 80” Chairman for Arkansas.
II) Energy – Gilbert Baker has more energy than any candidate on the ballot in 2010. He will not be out-worked or take this campaign for granted. He is a fresh face and has fresh ideas to counter status quo and insider candidacies.
III) Resources – Gilbert Baker has proven over and over that he has the ability to raise the necessary resources to compete against the Democratic machine both locally and nationally. In 2008, he took on Mike Beebe and Bill Clinton and was successful in his re-election bid.
Arkansas Republicans missed an opportunity in 2004 to defeat Blanche Lincoln; Jim Holt couldn’t raise the necessary resources, and he was outspent by a greater than 30 to 1 margin. Our conservative message deserves the resources. Jim Holt lost to Blanche Lincoln in 2004 and, again, to Bill Halter in 2006. His campaign’s weary, old strategy is the same losing strategy that allowed Blanche Lincoln to be the 60th vote for Obama-care.
IV ) Geography - While the 3rd Congressional District produces a large number of Republican votes, the swing demographic will be suburban voters in Central Arkansas. Gilbert Baker has represented one of the biggest swing State Senate Districts for almost ten years. Republicans need a candidate who can appeal to suburban voters rather than only the 3rd Congressional District. Republicans win statewide when we nominate candidates who can appeal to the entire state (i.e., Huckabee and Rockefeller) rather than just one section of the electorate.