by Mark Moore
I am amazed that the Republican Run-off for Attorney General has gotten so much attention while the real battle for the future of the Republican Party in this state is going on with little notice or fanfare. As usual, mainstream media distracts with coverage of the ugly mudfest that the AG’s GOP run-off is becoming instead of the issues of substance at stake over the contest in Senate District 17.
Look, it is not going to rock my world either way, because my expectation is that those who are trying to get the Republican Party to actually become the party of limited government and more freedom are going to continue to fail to win that struggle. I am ready to move on with an experiment in true self-government like they are trying in Garland County, instead of out-sourcing the job of protecting our interests to a D.C. based private club which has proved its corruption and duplicity beyond any reasonable doubt.
Still, I have many friends who are good people who still feel that the GOP is worth saving and can be saved from within. Maybe I am wrong and they are right. If you are one of those people, then you should know that the real battle for the future of the Republican Party in this state is going on in Baxter, Marion, and Boone counties. It is the run-off for State Senate District 17 between John Burris and Scott Flippo.
I don’t know much about Flippo, but I know plenty about Burris. He was voted one of the ten worst legislators in Arkansas in the Arkansas Watch list of Worst Legislators. He was one of the key voices in getting Obamacare implemented in Arkansas, via the deceptively named “private” option. The plan simply combines the worst features of Obamacare’s socialism with the crony capitalism that establishment Republicans love all combined in one ultimately unaffordable package. Not that this was his only shortcoming as a legislature, but that, combined with his dishonesty about what the “private” option was and is, makes it the most glaring.
As close as the funding vote to renew the program will be in the state senate next year, I posit to you that this run-off is the race which determines what the heart and soul of the state Republican Party will be like, not the AG race. If Burris gets promoted from the house to the senate even after shafting conservatives by getting Obamacare implemented, albeit with a corprotist twist, then the others will feel they can get away with renewing the funding (i.e. borrowing more money on your children’s credit). If he loses, then legislators will realize that there is a price to pay for expanding government, even if you are an establishment darling. Right now the record is kind of mixed on this question. Some Obamacare supporters won in the primary, but a couple more lost.
Members of the legislature understand that this is the critical race that will define the character of the party. That is why very conservative legislators like Sen. Bryan King, Alan Clark, and Rep. Jim Dotson, along with more moderate ones like Sen. Cecil Bledsoe, are all backing Flippo. Burris is backed by many of those who sold out and voted to fund Obamacare. The legislators themselves understand how important this race is, I just hope the grass-roots do. It seems like they are more focused on the state-wide race than the race where there is truly the most at stake.
Like the AG’s race, it is getting ugly. Some who back Flippo have raised questions about the $57,000 in expense money Burris has claimed, and about how he got a loan for a $260,000 home in Little Rock when he claims to live in Baxter County. Something does smell a little, but really there is no proof of anything, nor does their need to be. The race is not about whether or not Burris is financially corrupt or not. The race is about his policies, and whether he was being honest with the voters when he made claims about the “private” option. If he prevails, then it is likely that Obamacare will prevail in Arkansas, confirming the state GOP as the party that only accepts Socialism reluctantly and if their friends get a slice rather than the state GOP as the party of limited government and freedom.
If you are among those who thinks the battle for the soul of the state GOP matters and you know of anyone in Boone, Baxter, or Marion counties who may not understand the importance of this race, you might want to call them up and remind them to vote and vote well. If you live close enough and have time to give, you might want to knock on doors. I am not sure how much money matters at this point in the race, but it always matters some. This is where the real battle is, and it has only one week before it will be decided!