Wills doubles down UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wills doubles down UPDATE



I asked Robbie Wills' camapign manager if they had any regrets about the dishonest attack mailer that went out against Joyce Elliott over the weekend. The answer: More of the same poison, which you can read on the jump. Wills has adopted Republican legislative demagoguery as campaign issues and done so in the most despicable way. To name a couple: The abortion legislation that Elliott opposed most certainly didn't provide adequate safeguards to protect the health of a mother seeking a late abortion. The prayer legislation was a transparent attempt to give the color of legality to formal prayer exercises at events such as football games where the courts have said it clearly amounts to establishment of religion.

Some leading Democrats have been e-mailing friends to declare Wills' move has pushed them solidly into Elliott's camp.

UPDATE: Here's an impassioned and detailed response from Elliott to Wills' smear.

Following Wills' latest garbage on the jump, you can read Ernest Dumas' take on it for this week's Times.


Joyce Elliott’s Extreme Makeover: 
Evasive Rhetoric Cannot Hide Extreme Record
June 1, 2010 (Little Rock, AR) - Joyce Elliott attempted an Extreme Makeover of her extremely out of touch and ineffective record on Talk Business.  On issue after issue, from her support for partial birth abortion and allowing underage children to receive an abortion without a parent's consent, to her lack of support for second Amendment rights and student-led prayer in school, she hedged, bobbed, weaved and equivocated in an interview with Roby Brock.
 "Joyce Elliott knows that her extremely ineffective out of touch record is a liability for her in November,” said Kyle Gott, Campaign Manager for Robbie Wills.  "If second district voters are serious about keeping this seat in Democratic hands, they will take a hard look at Joyce Elliott's extreme record."
 Elliott has noted in the past that she is comfortable changing her positions… after she is elected.
- Sen. Joyce Elliott: “But I’m not looking for someone who is trying to just be down the middle for the sake of being down the middle, in a primary. We do that after we get elected.”
“Our campaign is just surprised she has changed her positions during the course of this election.  Her extreme record doesn’t match her current evasive rhetoric.  Which is the real Joyce Elliott voters should be considering?  Not only is her extreme record a problem, she now has a credibility problem,” said Robbie Wills Campaign Manager, Kyle Gott.
Evasive Rhetoric vs. Extreme Record
Elliott’s Extreme Record vs. Evasive Rhetoric: Partial-Birth Abortion
The Extreme Record: 
In 2005 Elliott voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion that included an exception to protect the life or health of the mother.  (85th Regular Session – 2005; HB 2546   Abortion (Intracranial Evacuation Prohibited); http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2005/R/Pages/BillInformation.aspx?measureno=HB2546
The Evasive Rhetoric: 
Talk Business reports that “she is against partial birth abortions, but voted against a proposed bill because it would not allow for an exception if a woman's life was in medical danger.”
Elliott’s Extreme Record vs. Evasive Rhetoric: Parental Consent
The Extreme Record: 
In 2005 Elliott voted against parental consent despite the fact it had multiple exceptions to protect a child in the case of rape or incest including a process to provide a confidential waiver if in the best interest of the child.  (85th Regular Session – 2005; HB 1033   Abortion (Parental Signature/Consent Required); http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2005/R/Pages/BillInformation.aspx?measureno=HB1033
The Evasive Rhetoric: 
"Of course, I think minors ought to have consent from their parents."  She cited personal issues with some of the bills in question that would restrict abortion rights, noting that abuse and incest situations needed more consideration in the bills.
Elliott’s Extreme Record vs. Evasive Rhetoric: School Prayer
The Extreme Record: 
In 2005 Elliott voted to against a bill that would have given students the ability to pray at school and prohibited school officials from interfering with that right as long as it didn’t disrupt classroom instruction.  (85th Regular Session - 2005HB 2971;  Schools (Student-Led Prayer Protected)
The Evasive Rhetoric: 
From Talk Business: “Elliott also defended her votes on school prayer noting that the bill in question sought to expand limited school prayer rights that already exist as exceptions.”
Elliott’s Extreme Record vs. Evasive Rhetoric: Gun Rights
The Extreme Record: 
Elliott received a C- from the NRA for her voting record against the Constitutional right to bear arms.
(2004 http://img.votesmart.org/issue_rating_detail.php?r_id=2758;Based on lifetime voting records on gun issues and the results of a questionnaire sent to all state legislative candidates in 2004, the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund assigned Senator Elliott a grade of C- (with grades ranging from a high of A+ to a low of F).)
The Evasive Rhetoric: 
She defended her position on the Second Amendment saying that she's "on record with the Family Council supporting" gun owners' rights.


By Ernest Dumas


          Something about an 8 1/2x12-inch mailer, which is the preferred political communication this season, makes the spirit sink. Sen. Blanche Lincoln, Lt. Gov. Bill Halter and their surrogates have bombarded households with them for two months, and if even one of them didn’t badly distort the facts I overlooked it.

          But maybe the worst one, or at least the most shocking, arrived last week from the campaign of state Rep. Robbie Wills, who is in a runoff with state Sen. Joyce Elliott for U. S. representative from the Second District. You know it is from Robbie Wills because in small letters, the tiniest on either side of the flyer, it says “Paid for by Robbie Wills for Congress.” Otherwise Wills is not mentioned. It’s almost as if he didn’t want you to know.

          It is shocking for several reasons. Wills had said he was not going to engage in negative advertising. It doesn’t sound like Wills, who has been a pretty progressive lawmaker. It is the sort of right-wing Republican literature that you can expect to see assailing Wills or Elliott in the fall when Tim Griffin cranks up his sleaze machine. And it is a terribly risky calculation. The flyer turns off tens of thousands of Democratic voters, including many who voted for Wills because they thought that he was more electable. It put a surge into Elliott’s fundraising.

In short, it looks like desperation. Wills trailed Elliott in the first primary and the demographics of the runoff voting do not look particularly favorable. But the flyer was supposed to energize conservative voters, who might otherwise stay at home, and it may work.

          The mailer was intended for conservative urban voters and rural voters in the outlying counties — and men. The flyer was usually addressed to men. Elliott’s photograph appears not once but three times on the front and back, which a cynic might suspect was a subtle way to remind voters that she is an African-American.

          “Joyce Elliott’s Values. . . Are They Yours?” it asks. Then it says she has fought to stop hunting and outlaw prayer in the schools and that she holds “extreme abortion views.”

          It is a variation of the reliable Republican theme in this decade, Gods, Guns and Gays, except that it leaves off gays.

          Guns are a proven vote getter, although Rep. Vic Snyder kept getting re-elected with a poor rating by the National Rifle Association.

          “Joyce Elliott has opposed and fought against our Arkansas tradition of hunting and 2nd Amendment rights,” the flyer says. The National Rifle Association gave her a low rating. Elliott, of course, says she does not oppose hunting and has never favored impinging on a person’s right to own a firearm. She even told the Arkansas Family Council what it wanted to hear, that she favored Second Amendment rights.

          It is true that she voted against a couple of the Family Council’s abortion bills, which were aimed at testing the limits of a woman’s constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. The bills had no practical, little legal but big political effects. One bill dealt with so-called “partial-birth abortions,” which are performed when the woman’s health is endangered and which are virtually nonexistent.

          The flyer says Elliott wanted to outlaw school prayer. Officially sponsored prayer in school has been outlawed by the Supreme Court for 40 years and by the Bible for 20 centuries. The bill sought to expand the permitted religious activities in schools beyond those recognized by the courts as constitutionally permissible. That is beyond the legislature’s ability. It is a good legislator who recognizes that and chooses not to join the demagoguery.

          Finally, Wills said Elliott, who had been an ally in the House of Representatives, was rated one of the least effective senators in Arkansas. She went to the Senate last year after three terms in the House of Representatives, where she was remarkably effective and recognized even by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette as one of the most effective legislators. In her first session in the Senate last year she passed 40 percent of the bills she sponsored, a ratio that ranked her 25th of the 35 senators. But the proper measure is not the percentage of bills passed but the quality and importance. Some legislators sponsor three or four bills of local relevance and pass them. As a freshman, she was the Democratic leader of the Senate, which is some recognition of the esteem of her colleagues.

          Wills, the speaker of the House of Representatives, can legitimately claim that he was even more effective. That would make a nice flyer. Even as speaker, he managed some of the biggest bills, including the lottery-implementing legislation. He was a key lawmaker in pushing through worthy tax increases. If he wins the nomination he will see himself savaged in ways as unfair as his attacks on Joyce Elliott.



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