THE FINAL PUSH: Pat Hays, the Democratic candidate for 2nd District Congress, was joined by Gov. Mike Beebe at a campaign event Monday. Beebe made light of the NRA''s vicious attack on Hays, a member of the NRA and concealed carry permit older.
The weight of national polling strongly, if not unanimously, suggests a Republican tide in Arkansas
today, though Democrats keep hopes up with talk of the rise in early voting and the appearance of new voters in counties targeted for registration and turnout campaigns. We don't yet know how much of the early voting is merely time-shifting. Republicans are quick to note they and the Kochs have had expensive turnout operations, too.
If the statistical analysts are right about the polls for U.S. Senate and governor, the biggest elections on the Arkansas ballot today (after strong races in the 2nd and 4th congressional districts by Pat Hays
and James Lee Witt
) are the votes in contested races for Arkansas House of Representatives
, where Republicans currently hold 51 of 100 seats. As David Ramsey has reported,
Democrats are making credible races to flip several current Republican seats. Republicans, too, are hopeful of changing some current Democratic seats. Should Republicans win the governor's office and a majority of statewide offices, for control of county election commissions, a Democratic House majority would be the base for a meaningful loyal opposition. A Democratic minority — along with the solid Republican Senate — would be barely a hindrance.
Pulaski County is particularly important to Democrats. John Adams
is a strong candidate to win a House seat currently held by a term-limited Republican. in western Little Rock. Clarke Tucker,
polls say, is leading a race to hold onto a Democratic House seat in the Heights, though his opponent has Stephens millions at her disposal. Re-election of Rep. Patti Julian
in North Little Rock and Danny Knight's
race to succeed term-limited Jim Nickels in northern Pulaski County are also critical.
I think all would agree that the Republican Party made the election a referendum on President Obama
and his health care law.
So there's this to anticipate: If the referendum was successful for the GOP, Republican governance will be complicated in Arkansas by promises to fight Obamacare to the death against a health care law that has brought tens of millions of dollars into the state budget and extended health security to a quarter of a million Arkansans.
All will be revealed before too very long. Local races — for legislature, city board and the like — should be readily predictable from the early voting returns in Pulaski County. The expected broad margin for Democratic candidates in Pulaski County also will be a clue to overall outcomes in the statewide races. If Democrats don't win HUGE in Pulaski, they have few other places to offset expected big Republican margins in places like Benton County.
If there are close races, outcomes could be complicated by Secretary of State Mark Martin's apparently illegal requirement of production of a photo ID
for voters who've changed counties of residence. His office has not yet responded to the ACLU's
complaint about the practice, apparently hoping to stonewall the issue to tamp down still more ill publicity for Martin on a day when Martin is on the ballot. But if thousands of voters are illegally made to cast provisional ballots for lack of a voter ID, how the 75 county election commissions decide to handle those ballots in the week-long certification process could be critical in races large and small. The ACLU, winner in a lawsuit challenging the Republican voter ID law, makes suggestions here on how to proceed.
I don't exaggerate the importance of these provisional ballots.Control of the Arkansas House in 2012 turned on a few hundred ballots. That's important enough. If some of the outlier polls on races for U.S. Senate and governor run contrary to broader predictions and produce surprising Democratic votes, both parties might have to send in the lawyers. Lots of them.
PS —The photo at right illustrates what a great job Secretary of State Mark Martin
did on voting procedures. He never sent out corrected materials for counties to post at polls. Thus, in Van Buren, they posted his illegal instructions that a voter ID was required. Yes, as a voter said, somebody half-heartedly marked through the word "photo" with a pen.
PPS — Martin's office is stonewalling a response on his illegal voter instructions for transferred voters, as alleged by the Pulaski County Election Commission and the ACLU. His campaign spokesman Mark Myers says he can't respond because it's in the hands of lawyers. When everybody and their cousin sued over Obamacare, I seem to recall that the administration continued to defend the action. Mark Martin never appears, never explains. But no matter. He says he's the most popular politician in Arkansas.