A victory for Obamacare in Republican primary | Arkansas Blog

A victory for Obamacare in Republican primary


IT'S NOT OVER YET: Teresa Gallegos will challenge the winner of yesterday's Republican Senate primary in the Russellville area.
  • IT'S NOT OVER YET: Teresa Gallegos will challenge the winner of yesterday's Republican Senate primary in the Russellville area.
Let's just call the outcome of the special Republican primary for a vacant state Senate seat in the Russellville area a victory for Obamacare.


Breanne Davis, backed by Gov. Asa Hutchinson and just about every special interest lobbyist you can imagine, beat Robert Bailey, 4,264-3,451. She'll face Democrat Teresa Gallegos, one of the new breed of resisters, in May for the right to complete the late Sen. Greg Standridge's term.

I should have said immediately that Bailey was no tribune for the little guy. His campaign was backed by multiple contributions from essentially the same source, the ultra-conservative Joe Maynard of Fayetteville and his web of interlocking Conduit for Action organizations. Maynard hates government and particularly hates the expansion of government embodied in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

This race was all about nailing down one of the 10 Senate seats necessary to finally drive a stake through the heart of the Medicaid expansion portion of Obamacare that Hutchinson and a legislative majority have embraced under its latest name, Arkansas Works. The drama of continuing that billion-dollar boon to sick people, hospitals and the state budget has decreased considerably and, with a few more defeats of Maynard-backed candidates, may evaporate entirely. There continue to be problems on the national level where Donald Trump and many Republicans, including Sen. Tom Cotton, remain committed to gutting the expansion of health coverage to millions of Americans.

So that's modestly good news from Russellville. But the day didn't pass without Hutchinson complaining about Maynard's political efforts at a session of the Political Animals Club. A Democrat-Gazette report by Michael Wickline quoted the governor:

"Right now, our state has a special interest group in Northwest Arkansas that is controlled by one person who is using various conduits, including a media arm, to pump tens of thousands of dollars in order to control legislators," he said. "This is not good for our state or for the body politic.

"Their goal is to push as narrow an agenda of isolating our state, limiting its growth and shutting down government, so you can expect me to be engaged in that political fight as needed because we don't need our legislators controlled by anyone, except for the people of their district," Hutchinson said in remarks that drew applause from some people at the luncheon.
Break out a thousand tiny violins for the governor, sitting on millions in campaign contributions from just about every special interest that has ever pled a special interest at the Arkansas legislature. You want conduits? Check the PACs of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, the nursing home lobby, the health care lobby, the polluters lobby. You'll find their check stubs for Asa. Media arms? Come November, you're going to be sick of Asa's smiling face on TV.

Narrow agendas? Legislators controlled by special interests rather than voters? It is to laugh hearing this from Hutchinson.

The governor wrote the agenda for this special session and it was a love letter to special interests — banks that might have to endure a jury trial to foreclose a loan; people who dump millions of gallons of hog shit in the Buffalo River valley; druggists; public school foes looking for state subsidies of private schools; the highway construction lobby desperate for more revenue than Hutchinson has already carved out for them out of general revnue.

I don't happen to like Joe Maynard's agenda much either, but to suggest his tactics are any different from those of the special interests backing the governor is little more than the squealing of a stuck pig.

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