About five minutes ago, the post on SD-18 candidate Zac White promising to push ethics reform in the legislature should have gone up. My scheduled posting has never let me down yet, so I’m assuming as I write this that it did. So I post this now, begging the DPA to please, please, PLEASE, start hammering Republicans over ethics reform and to make the issue integral to this election.
We have a winning issue here. Yes, Regnat Populus started late and didn’t get the signatures it needed. But it put front and center the issue of ethics in state government and all observers agreed that had it made it to the ballot it would have been passed overwhelmingly. What’s more, a string of Republicans, God bless them, gave Democrats a huge gift in lining up one after another on the wrong side of this issue. Democrats can still seize on that and should, because it could be critical to our chances in November. Right now, as it stands, it looks like we will probably lose the Arkansas House. The Arkansas Senate looks a little safer but is no slam dunk. Democrats need a game changer, and ethics reform is it. Think about what might happen if the DPA ran tv ads from the beginning of August to the November elections all across the state hitting Republicans hard with their own quotes regarding ethics reform. Would it guarantee we would hold both chambers of the state legislature? No, I’m not saying that this is a guarantee. But would it give us a hell of a lot better chance at doing so? Absolutely! The bottom line here is if the DPA doesn’t jump on this, then they’re stupid and Democrats deserve to lose.
The way to do this is simple-Take every quote that Mark Darr, and John Burris, and Missy Irvin, and Jon Woods, and all the rest of the Republican ilk have said about ethics reform, put it all together in a really good ad, and hang it around their necks. Yes, there are Democrats who deserve a swift kick in the read for stuff they said about it (remember Sue Madison clutching the pearls over “tuna fish on crackers”?) and some laudable examples of Republicans who came out in support of ethics reform. Still and yet, the most prominent Republicans in Arkansas state politics attacked the reform proposals while the prominent Democrats-Halter, Beebe, McDaniel, Bond, etc.-all lined up in support and as time went on far more Democrats endorsed the effort than Republicans. More importantly, all’s fair in love and war, and partisan politics sure ain’t love. Again, this isn’t a magical guarantee at victory, but it is a powerful new weapon in our arsenal that we shouldn’t hesitate to use. We’ve seen in recent weeks how voters in other states reacted when Democrats and the Obama campaign gave them new information about Romney’s career at Bain. Would informing Arkansas voters about what Republicans really think about ethics reform change the dynamic in the generic ballot preference for state legislative candidates from R to D? I for one would love to find out.
The hard part here seems to be getting the Democratic Party to actually do this and do this right. So far, they’ve responded to the wolves at the door with timidity and uncertainty, as if they’re hoping they’ll just go away. That needs to change. We will not hold the Arkansas legislature by being timid. We won’t hold it by playing the same strategy that we have for decades. We won’t hold it by being Republican light. The only chance we have of doing this is by doing something bold and putting Republicans on defense. Ethics reform looks like it will do the trick. But for it to work, Democrats have to use it and do this right.