Tags: | arkansas | midterms | close | governor | retires

Retiring Popular Ark. Gov. Could Mean Extinction for State's Dems

By    |   Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 06:20 PM

The popular and politically savvy Gov. Mike Beebe has helped stave off the extinction of Democrats in an increasingly conservative Arkansas — but his exit from office in January because of term limits may change all that, The New York Times reports.

Beebe's consistent appeal, cutting across income and culture, won him election in all 75 counties in the state in 2010, when the tea party throttled Democrats in congressional elections and in the state legislature, The Times notes.

And where President Barack Obama's approval rating is just 33 percent, Beebe's 74 percent approval in an NBC News/Marist poll puts him atop the heap of Democratic governors in the nation, The Times notes.

That was then.

Today, Beebe's old-fashioned personal politicking has given way to campaigns fueled in part by independent groups spending big money in the key Senate race in Arkansas pitting incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor in a tight race against GOP challenger Rep. Tom Cotton — a contest that could determine control of the upper chamber.

Unlike other battleground states this midterm election cycle, Arkansas hasn't had an influx of new immigrants who skew liberal, nor a big economic transformation. The Times notes, voters, divided by income level and education, have been moving increasingly toward conservative candidates.

"The message has gotten out that if you’re a strong, Christian, family person, you’re a Republican," Betty Claire Peacock, 71, a Democrat from Dumas, Ark., told The Times.

Democrat Mike Ross, who's running to replace Beebe, insists Arkansas remains "fiercely independent," but voters are not of one mind by any measure.

"If people know anything at all about Arkansas, they think of it as some Anglo-Saxon bastion of Southernness, but it really isn’t," Richard Davies, the executive director of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, told The Times. "We’re a little bit of a schizophrenic state as far as geography and hence culture."

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The popular and politically savvy Gov. Mike Beebe has helped stave off the extinction of Democrats in an increasingly conservative Arkansas - but his exit from office in January because of term limits may change all that, The New York Times reports. Beebe's consistent...
arkansas, midterms, close, governor, retires
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2014-20-01
Wednesday, 01 Oct 2014 06:20 PM
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