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The campaign season is underway and some big government candidates have nothing to defend themselves with other than to resort to “shoot the messenger.” Arkansas Republicans who vote for big government programs seem shocked that a growing number of conservatives actually think Republicans should live up to the Republican Party of Arkansas principles of limited government and individual responsibility. Below are a few examples of the “shoot the messenger” strategy.
Messenger – Americans for Prosperity
Americans for Prosperity (AFP) has helped many conservative candidates in Arkansas. It is not just their ability to publicize the positions of candidates. AFP has also helped conservative candidates by being able to bring in young conservatives to help in a number of campaigns.
Americans for Prosperity criticized State Representative Jana Della Rosa for her support of Medicaid Expansion. (She voted for the pro-Medicaid Expansion bill SB96.) Representative Della Rosa responded by attacking the messenger:
“Over the next few weeks you should expect to receive several more attack mailers from AFP. They will twist facts and distort the truth in hopes that you’ll believe I do not support conservative economic policies.”
Americans for Prosperity was correct about Representative Della Rosa’s support for Medicaid Expansion/ Private Option (Voted for the pro-Medicaid Expansion SB96 of 2015.) AFP did not twist facts or distort truth.
Messenger – Conduit for Action
Conduit for Action (CFA) – We, Conduit for Action, are a fiscally conservative organization focusing exclusively on Arkansas. CFA articles have focused on such issue as: problems with Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion, wasteful General Improvement Fund spending, crony capitalism, deceptive legislation, and deceptive campaign claims.
When Senator Jane English claimed she opposed Medicaid Expansion/ Private Option on a survey by Advance Arkansas Institute, CFA highlighted her voting record which shows her support for Medicaid Expansion/ Private Option.
Senator English took to Facebook on 1/21/2016 to criticize Representative Donnie Copeland for daring to run against her. In doing so she blamed his candidacy on Conduit. She said:
The goal is not for Copeland to represent the 85,000 citizens of District 34 but to further the agenda of NWA Conduit for Action. The word in political circles is that you are either a puppet or a target of Conduit for Action. Those who don’t agree with their agenda and work to represent their district constituents become targets. If you accept their support, you become their puppet.
First, Senator English insinuates her opponent, Representative Donnie Copeland will not represent the citizens of Senate District 34. Does she realize how weird this statement is coming from her? She is the one who, despite saying Medicaid Expansion is bad for the state, traded her vote on Medicaid Expansion to Democratic Governor Mike Beebe and became the deciding vote in the Senate in 2014 to continue it.
Representative Copeland promised to oppose Medicaid Expansion and followed through on that promise by sponsoring legislation in 2015 to try to repeal Medicaid Expansion. Meanwhile he saw his Senator continue to support Medicaid Expansion. So she wants you to believe Rep. Copeland ran because of Conduit and not because he believes he better represents the district. She wants you to believe it is because of Conduit that he is taking on an incumbent who is highly funded, including by many PAC’s.
Second, Puppets? If Conduit wanted puppets it is going about it in the wrong way. It is the big money interests who make establishment candidates the best funded candidates. CFA is far outnumbered by big money interests, but will continue to give voice to those who are tired of the big money interests growing government.
A 2nd Amendment group would not sit silent if a legislator voted against gun rights. A pro-life group would not stay silent if a legislator favored abortion and Planned Parenthood. So tell us why CFA, being fiscally conservative, should be silent as the government grows and grows.
Third, In order to claim CFA is an outsider who shouldn’t be talking about her, Senator English referred to Conduit for Action as a NWA group. EVERY Arkansas organization has to have a home address, and no you don’t have to do like the big government interest groups and adopt Little Rock as your home address. Conduit for Action is a statewide organization with supporters and donors across the state, including supporters and donors living in Senator English’s district. Senator English doesn’t like CFA’s address but apparently doesn’t have a problem accepting campaign contributions and endorsements from outside her district.
Messenger – TEA Party
TEA Party. Members of local TEA Party groups have been the backbone of the campaigns of many conservative candidates. They are often the foot soldiers of campaigns and deserve a lot of credit for Arkansas becoming a Republican state. In addition, local TEA Party groups have helped stop wasteful tax increases in city after city in Arkansas.
On Facebook, a number of TEA Party members have been critical of Senator Jane English for trading her vote on Medicaid Expansion in 2014.
In the Facebook post in which Senator Jane English blamed CFA for her political woes, she tried to diminish the validity of critics who are Tea Party members:
“While we have heard a lot from my opponent’s tea party supporters, there is always another side to the story that voters need to know before they go to the polls to vote.”
Is minimizing TEA Party members a good strategy? Have you noticed that the Republican presidential candidates that are doing the best in the polls tend to be the ones who have support among TEA Party members?
This campaign season we have seen big government candidates parsing words to claim to be on one side of an issue when their voting records show quite the opposite. When a candidate is called out for this trickery, the next step has been to shoot the messenger. With over a month to go in the primary season, what deception will they try next?
The political party primaries will be March 1, 2016 and early voting begins February 16, 2016.
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For those of you who are interested in finding out where campaign contributions come from, you may view the candidates campaign finance reports at: http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/filing_search/index.php/filing/search/new
Select “CC&E” and type in the candidate’s name.