Democrats have drawn a challenger to an incumbent Republican in the toughest of the four Arkansas districts, and it’s a guy with a pretty stellar resume. Ken Aden of Russellville is an Iraq War veteran who served 11 years in the army as part of the 82nd Airborne, special ops-all good stuff that should give him some kind of gravitas if he gets traction. Following his time in the army, Aden started a non profit focused on community development and fighting poverty, mostly in the Delta. It’s a pretty cool background for a Democrat to have in any race.
So what are Aden’s chances in the third? Well, to put it bluntly, he’d need to run the perfect campaign to win and, in addition to that, a miracle or two. But here’s the thing. The third is going to be competitive in the not so distant future-changing demographics are going to take care of that. When will that time be? No one can predict that for sure, in terms of an actual year, but it’s likely to happen within this decade. To take advantage of that though, Democrats are going to have to run strong candidates there every cycle and try to constantly improve the margins until it happens, else we’re liable to be caught unaware and miss our opportunity. So while there are plenty of folks in political circles who would no doubt think it wiser to avoid fielding a candidate there this cycle, I’d have to say that such thinking is pretty short sighted and doesn’t contribute to the long term building and strengthening of the Democratic Party.
In terms of issues and messaging, Aden has already given one hint as to what his campaign will focus on.
Aden, 32, said he believed the district is winnable for Democrats. He said he wants to try and attract renewable energy businesses to the 3rd district.
NWA is the one area of the state that could really benefit from wind energy, and it’d be foolish not to try to bring it in. Sounds like a good basis for part of a campaign platform for sure.
Still, it takes more than good ideas to win an election, or in this case even outperform low expectations. Namely, Aden’s going to need a lot of money, a strong organization, an aggressive campaign that is constantly registering new voters and working to turn them out. Can he do it? We’ll see. But just for an idea of how tough this guy is, check this out. Earlier this year, back when NEA was practically all underwater, he lived up to the promise of his “Run to End Hunger”, where he ran across the delta in exchange for pledges of canned food to the needy (which, I might add, Blue Arkansas contributed cans to). Ken ran for miles in the storms and flooding, facing snakes and notoriously bad Arkansas drivers. That’s tough, and it’s going to take that kind of gumption to take on Steve Womack.