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Posts Tagged ‘Joyce Elliott

Arkansas Rep. Vic Snyder Shaves Stache for Campaign Cash

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Rep. Vic Snyder (D-Ark.) had his mustache for 41 years. But no more.

On Sunday, Snyder’s wife, the Rev. Betsy Singleton Snyder, shaved off her husband’s mustache at Gen. Wesley Clark’s Little Rock home. The reason: Joyce Elliott, the Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate, raised $50,000.

Snyder, who has held the congressional seat since 1996 but decided not to seek re-election earlier this year, said last week that if Elliott raised $50,000 by Sunday he would shave off his mustache. Elliott’s campaign manager, John Whiteside, said in an e-mail last week, “We know the big corporations, Karl Rove and the billionaire Koch brothers have unlimited funds and total secrecy on their side in the 2010 election, but we have the unimaginable power of the mustache on our side.” The e-mail featured famous men with mustaches including the actors Tom Selleck and Sam Elliott — no relation to Joyce Elliott.

Elliott is running against Tim Griffin, a Republican and former Bush White House aide. A poll released Monday showed Elliott trailing Griffin by 12 points. An August poll showed Elliott down by 17 points. If Elliott were to be elected, she would be the first black to represent Arkansas in Congress.

Snyder said he was willing to shave off his beloved mustache to also prove the “stark contrasts” between Elliott and Griffin. He said Elliott has “great intelligence and integrity” and calls Griffin “a very flawed candidate” with a troubling past of lying about caseloads while he was a JAG attorney in the military and getting caught up in the U.S. attorney scandal.

“I’ll look for any opportunity to point that out,” Snyder told Politics Daily. “If a bag of mustache hair helps to tell that story then that’s what I’ll use.”

President Bill Clinton appeared at a rally for Elliott last Thursday, where he attacked Griffin’s past connections to Karl Rove while Griffin worked in the White House.

Griffin released a new ad Monday about the economy and the national debt. Last week, Elliott released an ad that hit on Griffin’s character. The ad featured Elliott standing in the church where she grew up, holding a Bible.

Pundits have said that the district, which includes Little Rock, will likely go Republican this year.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Bill Clinton Warns Arkansas Democrats to Beware of Karl Rove Politics

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Former President Bill Clinton swung through Arkansas this week for a handful of campaign stops in his home state, taking a few hard-hitting swings at Republican opponents who are attacking his old friends running for office.

On Thursday morning, Clinton joined 2nd Congressional District candidate Joyce Elliott for a rally in a historic ballroom in downtown Little Rock. If elected, Elliott, who is a retired school teacher and state senator, would become Arkansas’ first black member of Congress.

Elliott needs all the help she can get. She trails her Republican opponent, Tim Griffin, a former Bush White House aide who worked with Karl Rove, in polls and fundraising. Griffin said in a press release Thursday during the Elliott event that he had raised more than $600,000 in this quarter and more than $1.57 million since the start of his campaign a year ago. Elliott has not released her latest totals.

At the rally, Clinton said that Republicans, including Rove, would blanket Arkansas over the next few weeks with attacks ads against Elliott. Rove, former deputy chief of staff and senior advisor to President George W. Bush, is reportedly a founder of American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, two groups that are pouring millions of dollars into midterm races on behalf of Republican candidates.

“Karl Rove is a genius,” Clinton said, telling the crowd what he believes Republicans want voters to do during the midterm elections: “Stop thinking.”

Clinton added that Rove understands there is a deep “tribal” anger about the direction of the country that is fueling the midterms. Republicans like Rove are doing a good job at using talking points to tap into that anger to woo voters.

As for the race in the 2nd Congressional District, it took off after Democrat Vic Snyder, who has represented the district since 1996, announced his retirement in January, citing family issues. He is the father of four young children, including triplets.

That news set the stage for a five candidate Democratic primary in May, which led to an Elliott victory in a June runoff with Speaker of the House Robbie Wills. The district, which pundits say is trending Republican, encompasses seven rural counties and metropolitan Pulaski County, home to Little Rock, which is both the hub of state government and industry and home to two major military installations.

Snyder, who is famous for the bushy mustache he has had since 1969, said this week he will shave it off this Sunday at General Wesley Clark’s Little Rock home if Elliott can raise $50,000 by then.

At Thursday’s event, Snyder and Clinton hit Griffin hard on the issue of character.

Snyder held up a large poster that highlighted Griffin’s involvement in the controversy over the firing of nine U.S. Attorneys by the Bush administration in 2006-2007. The unusual nature of the dismissals created suspicion that the government lawyers were sacked because they didn’t see eye-to-eye ideologically with the White House.

Griffin replaced U.S. Attorney Bud Cummins, one of the nine. Some Democrats have alleged that Griffin, who had worked for Cummins from 2001-02, had been seeking the job as a stepping stone for a political career. Griffin served for six months and resigned before having to face Senate confirmation hearings. Arkansas Democratic Sens. Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln strongly questioned Griffin’s appointment.

“The same time he was saying nice things about Cummins, he was trashing him in the White House to get him fired,” Snyder said.

When Clinton took the stage along with Elliott, cheers and applause exploded. Clinton replayed the economics speech he gave the previous day on a campaign stop in northern Arkansas and attacked Griffin, accusing him of lying about his caseload while he was a military attorney. Clinton also went after Griffin on job creation.

“Her opponent hasn’t done one single thing to put anyone to work,” Clinton said.

“Except himself,” a supporter yelled.

“He tried to put a U.S. Attorney out of work, but that was so he could fill the job,” Clinton said. “There was no net increase there. And some of us think it was a net decrease.”

The Griffin campaign responded after the event. “It’s President Obama’s economy, not President Clinton’s, and Joyce Elliott’s false accusations and negative attacks do not create one new private sector job for Arkansas workers or take one dollar off the national debt,” Kenneth Ryan James, Griffin’s communications director, told Politics Daily “Joyce Elliott is campaigning to help move the job-killing Obama agenda forward — that is why Arkansans are rejecting her campaign.”
Both sides have launched TV attack ads. One Griffin ad quotes an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial that refers to Elliott smearing Griffin’s character in order to deflect her own record.

Elliott’s ad shows her standing in the church where she attended as a child holding a Bible. She says in the ad, “Thy shall not bare false witness” before adding that “It’s clear Tim Griffin never learned this lesson.”

Elliott accuses Griffin of lying about his record and conspiring to keep students and soldiers from voting. Democrats have alleged that Griffin was involved in the suppression of minority, homeless and service members’ votes while employed by the Republican National Committee in 2004. Griffin denied the accusations in a lengthy press release.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Fired Bush-Era U.S. Attorneys to Speak in Arkansas; Some in GOP Question Timing

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Five former U.S. attorneys are gathering in Little Rock, Ark., on Monday to discuss a mutual, and curious, political past. All of them were fired by the Bush administration during 2006-07.

The controversy erupted when officials of George W. Bush’s White House and Alberto Gonzales’ Justice Department fired nine U.S. attorneys in midterm. All of them had been appointed by the Bush administration. The unusual nature of the firings created suspicion that the government lawyers were sacked because they didn’t see eye-to-eye ideologically with the White House.

The reasons are myriad but include failure to prosecute Democratic politicians, and conversely, as retribution for prosecuting Republican politicians. Another reason to fire the attorneys was to clear the path for young Republicans to start political careers.

The event that brings together five of those former U.S. attorneys is hosted by the Clinton School of Public Service and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. According to a news release, the panel will discuss professional ethics and lessons that can be learned from the controversial firings.

The five former U.S attorneys are Carol Lam, Southern District of California; David Iglesias, District of New Mexico; Paul Charlton, District of Arizona; Bud Cummins, Eastern District of Arkansas; and John McKay, Western District of Washington.

The five gathered in Arizona in January for a similar panel. But Monday’s Arkansas panel comes with complicated political ties.

Cummins, who served five years, was replaced by Tim Griffin, who worked as an aide in the Bush White House. He is now running as the Republican nominee for Congress in Arkansas’ 2nd District against Democrat Joyce Elliott. If elected, Elliott would be the first black elected to Congress in Arkansas. A recent poll shows Elliott trailing by 35 percent to 52 percent.

The seat has been held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder since 1996, when Snyder ran against Cummins. Cummins lost that race with 48 percent of the vote to Snyder’s 52 percent. He later served as former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s chief legal counsel.

Some Arkansas Republicans have whispered about the timing of the event, considering Cummins is a Griffin foe and the Clinton School is a co-sponsor. They suggest that this panel will embarrass Griffin and aid Elliott’s struggling race. But Alice Stewart, senior communications adviser for the Republican Party of Arkansas, says that some Republicans don’t believe the conspiracy. “I’m sure the deans at the Clinton School and UALR Law School would not use public funds to influence an election,” Stewart said. “I believe the timing is merely a coincidence.”

Skip Rutherford, dean of the Clinton School, told Politics Daily that the event has been planned for months.

Griffin declared his intention to run for Congress almost a year ago.

“The date was built around the schedules of participants — not an election,” Rutherford said. “I first thought about it when I read about them speaking together at an event months ago in some other state.”

Rutherford said that the school had previously hosted both Griffin and Cummins as well as Karl Rove to speak at the Clinton School.

Monday’s event is likely to trigger a rash of press releases by Elliott’s campaign and the Democratic Party of Arkansas highlighting Griffin’s past connections with the scandal. It will put pressure on Griffin to publicly explain his side of the story in more detail.

Griffin resigned his interim position as U.S. attorney after six months. As Congress began investigating the firings, documents showed that the White House wanted a vacant slot in Little Rock so Griffin could fill it. He resigned before confirmation hearings.

When Bill Clinton visited Arkansas earlier this month for a series of fundraisers for Democratic candidates, he had harsh words about Griffin.

Clinton voiced his support for Elliott, saying, “There is none of the kind of ethical problems and political-abuse-of-power charges and all those other things that have come out against her opponent (Griffin). And the main thing is he wants to join that group of people that will go back and do those things that got us in trouble in the first place. It’s not about blaming them for the past – it is about what they want to do tomorrow.”

In 2007, Arkansas’ two Democratic senators, Mark Pryor and Blanche Lincoln, expressed doubts about placing Griffin, a former Republican National Committee operative, in charge of a U.S. attorney’s office. The Washington Post reported that e-mails showed that Justice officials prepared to use a change in federal law to bypass input from Pryor or Lincoln.

“This was a very loyal soldier to the Republicans and the Bush administration, and they wanted to reward him,” Pryor said at the time. “They had every right to do this, but it’s the way they handled it, and the way they tried to cover their tracks and mislead Congress, that has turned this into a fiasco for them.”

In July, Obama’s Justice Department announced that no indictments would occur from the investigation.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Can Bill Clinton Save Arkansas for the Democrats?

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Calling Bill Clinton. That’s the S.O.S. sounding among Arkansas Democrats.

The former president returns to his home state this week with a schedule chock full of fundraisers, including a breakfast Thursday morning for incumbent Sen. Blanche Lincoln. She faces an uphill battle against Republican Rep. John Boozman.

In a year when having an “R” by your name could mean easy victory, the question is whether Clinton can save Democratic candidates in Arkansas.

Clinton is the most in-demand Democrat on the campaign trail this year. Arkansas Democrats say he plans to spend a lot of time in the state to rally the troops – and what’s left of his political machine – to victory in the fall. But Clinton has his work cut out for him.

Arkansas has traditionally trended red in the presidential column. The only exceptions since 1972 are Jimmy Carter’s election in 1976 and Clinton’s in 1992 and re-election in 1996. Arkansas Democrats have long controlled Congress, the legislature and county seats, but that might change this cycle.

“I think that Clinton can instill a measure of energy, enthusiasm and commitment in party activists that will carry them forward in the next eight weeks,” said Hal Bass, a political science professor at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. “I think he can also provide a reminder of legitimacy for traditional Democrats who may sense that the landscape has shifted, leaving them on the outside. I think these efforts can be effective at the margins.”

The Democratic Party of Arkansas sent out an e-mail earlier this week touting Clinton’s events in the state Wednesday and Thursday. 

His first appearance of the day was at a luncheon for Second Congressional District candidate Joyce Elliott at the Copper Grill, a few blocks from his presidential library. Elliott volunteered on both of Clinton’s presidential campaigns.

If she wins, Elliott would be the first black elected to Congress in Arkansas. A recent poll shows Elliott down 35 percent to her Republican opponent, Tim Griffin, a former Bush White House aide, with 52 percent. The seat has been held by Democratic Rep. Vic Snyder since 1996.

Clinton spoke harshly about Griffin to reporters Wednesday after the Elliott fundraiser.

“There is none of the kind of ethical problems and political-abuse-of-power charges and all those other things that have come out against her opponent. And the main thing is he wants to join that group of people that will go back and do those things that got us in trouble in the first place. It’s not about blaming them for the past — it is about what they want to do tomorrow,” Clinton said. 

Griffin has said Arkansans are rejecting Elliott’s campaign because she would be working with the Obama Administration.
Following Clinton’s remarks, Griffin responded: “We are focused on private sector job creation and getting our fiscal house in order, and folks are responding to our positive campaign.”

Griffin has been accused by Democrats of keeping blacks and other Democratic voters in Florida away from polls in the 2004 presidential election. At the time he worked for the Republican National Committee. He has also been accused of a role in the U.S. attorney scandal in 2006, which forced the resignation of seven top Justice Department officials, including the attorney general of the United States. 

Clinton also appeared at a fundraiser at his old haunt, Doe’s Eat Place, for long-time friend Carolyn Staley, who is running for the state legislature.

After that, he popped into a house party for First Congressional District candidate Chad Causey, who has served as Rep. Marion Berry’s chief of staff for five years. A Talk Business poll shows Causey down 32 percent to Republican Rick Crawford’s 48 percent. Causey’s grandfather, Hugh Ashley, campaigned for Clinton during his gubernatorial races.

“The various and sundry candidates can bask in his glow, to their benefit,” Bass said. “They can also benefit from listening to, and imitating, his rhetoric. Clinton knows how to frame a campaign argument effectively. However, I don’t see him sweeping in, and through his charisma, restoring the landscape to reflect its traditional Democratic advantage. At best, he can begin to level the playing field for the remainder of the campaign season.”

Clinton closed the day with a celebration for Lincoln’s first anniversary as chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee. He campaigned with Lincoln in May during her tough primary campaign against Lt. Gov. Bill Halter. After a rally with Clinton, the dynamics of the race changed. Lincoln squeaked out a win in the June run-off.

Clinton acknowledged to reporters earlier in the day that Lincoln may be the most endangered incumbent this year, but stressed Lincoln’s position on the committee.

He said the chair is “not only the leader in agriculture policy but controls development funds for small towns in rural America, and she has delivered over and over and over again. So I think if she can make it about the issues, what do we need to do, who’s most likely to do it, as opposed to anger, apathy and amnesia, I think she can still win this race.”

Just hours before her evening celebration, Lincoln announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to purchase up to $30 million of poultry products for federal food-nutrition-assistance programs, providing a boost to Arkansas’s poultry industry and economy. The poultry industry represents one of every six jobs in Arkansas.

At the packed event held inside a ballroom at Little Rock’s train station, Clinton told the crowd that it would be a “terrible mistake” for voters not to re-elect Lincoln, especially given her standing as agriculture chair. She is the first woman and first Arkansan to hold that position.

He hammered home that Republicans want Democratic and independent voters to feed on anger, apathy and amnesia — his theme for the day.

Neither Clinton nor Lincoln ever mentioned Boozman by name. Clinton said that Republicans want to repeal health care reform, privatize Social Security and Medicare and halt the stimulus plan.

Clinton said angry voters should use caution when making a decision: “When you make a decision when you’re mad, there’s about an 80 percent chance you’ll make a mistake. It’s having nothing to do about politics,” he said. “Think about your whole life.”

And what should Democrats do to win in November? “Get out and tell our side of the story,” Clinton said.

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:07 pm

NAACP Official Accuses Arkansas Candidate of Using ‘Racism Term’

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Arkansas congressional hopeful Robbie Wills is white. His opponent, Joyce Elliott, is black.

This week, Wills called Elliott “unelectable,” triggering a strong reaction from the president of the Arkansas NAACP. “The ‘unelectable’ is a racism term,” said Dale Charles. In Arkansas — which has never elected a black person to Congress — “unelectable'” is code, another way of saying that a black person cannot win office in the state, so don’t waste your vote, Charles said.

Wills denies the charge, saying it’s Elliott’s liberal values, not her skin color, that make her unelectable.

The two face each other in the Second Congressional District Democratic runoff race on Tuesday, with Elliott in the lead.

Elliott, a liberal state senator, won the May 18 primary with 40 percent of the vote. Wills, a self-defined “unapologetic moderate” who serves as the state Legislature’s speaker of the House, received 28 percent. Three other candidates received 30 percent.

The winner of Tuesday’s runoff will face Republican Tim Griffin, a former Bush aide, in November.
Over the weekend, Wills dropped a mailer attacking Elliott, a retired schoolteacher, on three issues that play well in the Bible Belt – guns, God and abortion. Wills highlighted Elliott’s legislative record on legislation that would restrict gun and hunting rights, “outlaw” school prayer and allow an underage girl to have an abortion without parental consent. The mailer also calls Elliott “extremely ineffective.”
The mailer asked the question: “Joyce Elliott’s values . . . are they yours?”
Wills has insisted that his moderate views give him a stronger electability factor against Griffin in November.
“Sen. Elliott is unelectable because of her extreme voting record in the Legislature.” Wills said. “Her record is out of touch with Arkansas values.”
Hogwash, says the NAACP’s Charles. “When you look at the votes on May 18, she pulled the most. In Arkansas politics, we have never had a black congressman — even Mississippi and Oklahoma have. A black has never held one of the seven state-wide offices in Arkansas. We’ve never elected a black to the state supreme court. That sentiment is a buzzword for racism.”
President Barack Obama lost Arkansas to Sen. John McCain by 20 percent. Obama lost the Second District, which includes Little Rock, by 10 percent. The district includes eight counties, seven of which are predominantly white.
Charles points to the 2008 election as an example of how race plays in Arkansas politics. He said that U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a white Democrat, received more than 800,000 votes in his re-election campaign in 2008. Obama received roughly half of those votes – 422,310.
“People have said they couldn’t vote for a black man for president,” Charles said. “Now it’s the same thing with Elliott, black and female. It’s pure racism.”
Wills rejects Charles’ statement.
“My campaign has never been about gender or race,” Wills said. “The only person to mention either of those is Sen. Joyce Elliott herself. My campaign has been focused on nothing but our records. When I use the word ‘electable,’ I am talking about whose record can win.”

Wills and Elliott are running for the open seat that Rep. Vic Snyder has held for 13 years. In January, Snyder announced that he would not seek re-election because of family obligations. Snyder is one of the most liberal representatives in Congress. But he inoculated himself from his progressive voting record term after term with a strong background as a doctor, lawyer and a Vietnam veteran.

The National Republican Congressional Committee has named the Second District has a likely pick-up seat. It’s also on Sarah Palin’s target list.

Wills says the NRCC has attacked him in press releases in an effort to boost Elliott’s profile; Wills believes the NRCC thinks an Elliott-Griffin matchup in the fall would bring out the conservative vote and mean a likely win for Griffin, who is a conservative, whereas Wills is more moderate.

Elliott has stayed out of the racial fray. She said that the mailer misleads voters on her positions. Her campaign sent out a lengthy release highlighting her positions and accomplishments in the Legislature.
“For many voters in the Second District, this race to determine the Democratic nominee who is the best candidate to carry on the work and legacy of Congressman Vic Snyder,” said Elliott. “I believe I am the candidate who is best suited to live up to that challenge.”
Janine Parry, a University of Arkansas political science professor, calls this a classic game of race and gender.
“Out of the gate, Elliott was labeled not sufficiently electable: she is female, she is black, she is unabashedly liberal. Surely central Arkansas voters – for any, or all, of those reasons – would not elect her,” Parry said. “But that kind of thinking put her in a position to ‘overperform’ in the first round and left Wills, who ended up trailing her so significantly, with few tools other than putting that kind of whisper campaign to paper, hoping it works this time.”

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March 2, 2011 at 7:21 pm