PRIMARY TIME: Irvin faces a challenge from Phil Grace, who hopes to make Irvin's vote on the private option an issue
Former Cleburne County Justice of the Peace Phil Grace
will take on state Sen. Missy Irvin
in the Republican primary for Senate District 18, which covers parts of Baxter, Cleburne, Faulkner, Fulton, Marion, Searcy, Stone, White, and Van Buren counties.
As we noted in this week's cover story
, the race could have major implications for the future of the private option
. For now, Irvin is the key swing vote — her recent statement that she will not vote for the appropriation
leaves the Senate one vote shy of approval. Grace never mentions Irvin by name but clearly plans to make her vote for the private-option appropriation last year the major issue in his campaign:
My opponent’s record of voting for the largest government expansion in Arkansas’ history, known as the Private Option, is troubling to many of the Republican voters in SD18. It’s especially concerning since she was originally opposed to the private option, but at the last minute added her name as a co-sponsor and voted for it. I’m ﬁrmly opposed to Obamacare in Arkansas and legislation that helps implement any part of it, such as medicaid expansion under the Private Option.
This circles back around to the point that a lot of observers at the Capitol have made about Irvin or others considering flipping their vote. From a purely political standpoint, there's not much strategic upside. Even though she released a statement just a little more than a week ago expressing opposition, Grace still plans on hammering her vote last session. Presumably there will be charges of flip-flopping as well. Meanwhile, Irvin runs the risk of angering the various interests pushing for
the private option.
Regardless of where she ends up on the healthcare question, Irvin — an extremely effective campaigner who is popular in her district — should still be considered the heavy favorite. Press release from Grace after the jump.
Republican Phil Grace Announces He’s Ofﬁcially a Candidate for State Senate!
Phil Grace ofﬁcially launched his campaign for State Senate today. He will be seeking the Republican nomination for Senate District 18 which covers parts of the following counties: Baxter, Cleburne, Faulkner, Fulton, Marion, Searcy, Stone, White, and Van Buren. Phil is a Conservative Republican with an experienced political history in Cleburne County, the largest populous in SD18.
“I’ve been spending time over the last few months in different parts of Senate District 18 and I have repeatedly heard that the people want an alternative candidate on the ballot this year. My opponent’s record of voting for the largest government expansion in Arkansas’ history, known as the Private Option, is troubling to many of the Republican voters in SD18. It’s especially concerning since she was originally opposed to the private option, but at the last minute added her name as a co-sponsor and voted for it. I’m ﬁrmly opposed to Obamacare in Arkansas and legislation that helps implement any part of it, such as medicaid expansion under the Private Option.” said Grace “ Right now Washington is broken and trillions of dollars in debt. We can’t count on DC to keep promises for any funding and Arkansas certainly can’t foot the bill. The only way to deal with DC’s issues, is for States to band together and push back.“ he remarked.
Grace is a Conservative and some of his positions on the issues are as follows:
• Opposed to any form of Obamacare implementation
• 100% Pro-Life
• Strongly believes in the 2nd amendment right to bear arms
• State authority (pushing back against an out of control federal government)
• Pro-Traditional marriage
• Strongly believes in personal freedom and personal responsibility
• Limited Government
• Tax reform that lowers the tax burden on families and small businesses
Phil Grace if a former Justice of The Peace in Cleburne County and is employed as the Director of Technology at the Heber Springs School District. Mr. Grace is a licensed Arkansas teacher in the area of computer engineering. His wife April is a 7th Grade science teacher at the Heber Springs Middle School. He and his wife, have been married for 10yrs and have a son named Alexander. The Grace family are active members of First Assembly of God in Heber Springs where they have attended since 2003. Mr. Grace has served previously as President of the Arkansas Society for Technology in Education. He is a member of the NRA, Gideon’s international, and a contributor to the Arkansas Right to Life.