by Max Brantley
News release arrives from Sen. Blanche Lincoln. It notes that her opponent. Rep. John Boozman, once a fan of earmarked pork projects for Arkansas, has sworn off of them this year to comport with Republican campaign strategy.
Lincoln says she will keep fighting for Arkansas's share of federal spending for worthy projects.
Stipulated: Boozman's a hypocrite. Arkansas is a needy state. It's foolish to be the only state to unilaterally disarm in the fight for federal money. Republicans are steadily howling for highway money for Northwest Arkansas and Boozman has given up the fight. I get it.
But darned if I don't think this news release from Lincoln is a loser politically. Arkansas deserves a good return on its investment? Everybody knows we're a welfare state, that we get back more than we put into the federal system.
For anybody who is buying into the shallow Republican deficit argument, Lincoln's release almost highlights Boozman as a man of principle.
The messaging sucks, no surprise in this disaster of a campaign.
Get specific. Name names and oxen gored. Can the bureaucratic palaver.
LINCOLN NEWS RELEASE
The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the annual transportation appropriations bill, which contains important investments for Arkansas's 1st, 2nd and 4th Congressional Districts but not the 3rd Congressional District represented by Congressman John Boozman. Since announcing his candidacy for U.S. Senate, Congressman Boozman has had an election year conversion to abstain from earmark requests, failing to represent his constituents and relying on Senator Lincoln to deliver crucial investments for the 3rd Congressional District.
"I will not tie one arm behind the backs of Arkansans," Senator Lincoln said. "Arkansas taxpayers deserve to get a good return on their investment and I consider it part of my responsibility to ensure these important projects are justified and are funded."
Former Third District Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt proved that through common-sense earmarks, elected officials could help improve the economic conditions of a state and the economic fortunes of constituents. After spending a decade in Washington requesting earmarks, Congressman Boozman has pledged to abstain from fighting for federal dollars for his district now that he is a candidate for U.S. Senate. In fact, Congressman Boozman's office encourages constituents to make their requests to Senator Lincoln, whom he now criticizes for earmarks.
"Senator Lincoln takes great care to ensure that Arkansas projects are worthy of the federal investment, then she fights for them," Lincoln campaign manager Steve Patterson said. "She's not convinced that bureaucrats and grant formulas recognize the needs of small, rural states like Arkansas. Special projects funding by the Congressional delegation is the great equalizer for states like Arkansas."