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Nevada County Picayune-Times - Prescott, AR
  • Officially a horse race for governor

  • It's officially a horse race with all three announced Democrat and Republican candidates having filed for office in the race to succeed Governor Mike Beebe, including a Southwest Arkansas native son, but the betting is focused on two of the three.
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  • It's officially a horse race with all three announced Democrat and Republican candidates having filed for office in the race to succeed Governor Mike Beebe, including a Southwest Arkansas native son, but the betting is focused on two of the three.
    Republicans Asa Hutchinson and Curtis Coleman both filed for office on the opening day of the filing period Monday. Democrat Mike Ross waited until Wednesday.
    Coleman, the retired head of Safe Foods Corp. in North Little Rock, is not a presumptive leader either in the GOP primary against Hutchinson or in the general election against Ross, who has no primary election opponent. Coleman has never sought political office prior to this year, but he has hosted a syndicated radio program of political commentary.
    Ross and Hutchinson, the presumptive leaders, both have served in Congress and have been active in their respective party politics in Arkansas for years.
    Hutchinson served in Congress from 1997-2001, when he left to head the Drug Enforcement Agency; then, from 2003-2005 he oversaw border security in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In Congress, he represented the largely Republican Third Congressional District in Northwest Arkansas.
    He has two unsuccessful statewide campaigns under his belt, a run for attorney general in 1990 and a U. S. Senate campaign in 1986; both of which were before the Republican ascendency that created a two-party system in Arkansas.
    Hutchinson is a successful attorney from Bentonville, where he is CEO of The Hutchinson Group.
    During his tenure in the U. S. House of Representatives, Hutchinson was appointed to try the case for impeachment against then-President Bill Clinton in the U. S. Senate.
    This race is about creating a climate in Arkansas where businesses can come to this state and hire Arkansans,” Hutchinson said in announcing his filing. “This race is about educating our students so they can become entrepreneurs and create their own futures. Together, we can build a new future where Arkansas can compete and grow.”
    Ross has never run a statewide campaign, but was re-elected to Congress from the humongous Fourth Congressional District, which encompassed almost half the state, for six terms. Prior to that, Ross was a state senator from Nevada County for 10 years.
    Page 2 of 2 - He and his wife, Holly, owned a pharmacy business in Prescott for 14 years prior to selling the business to a regional chain.
    Ross was serving in the Arkansas Senate when Clinton was impeached, but had worked in Clinton's campaigns for governor, and has since been endorsed by Clinton in his bid for the governor's office.
    Arkansas has a pretty big choice this November,” Ross said in his filing announcement online. “We can embrace bipartisanship or fall victim to Washington-style politics. We can stand up for women, children, seniors, and veterans, or we can leave them behind. And we can fight for lower, fairer taxes and balanced budgets, or we can accept fiscally irresponsible plans that will bankrupt this state.”
    The contrast couldn't be any sharper, according to Dr. Hal Bass, professor of political science at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, who said in a telephone interview that Ross will seek to keep the election Arkansas-centered, while Hutchinson will seek to nationalize it.
    Whether that works or not is another question,” Bass said of both strategies. “The Republicans want to nationalize it and the Democrats want to keep it isolated from the national issues.”
    That, along with the contrast between the two campaigns, has made the race a neck and neck horse race, Bass said.
    I think both candidates have a regionally high floor and a regionally low ceiling,” he said of statewide polling.
    Ross touted a 44 to 41 percent lead in his filing announcement Wednesday, which reflected a Rasmussen Reports poll of Feb. 7 among 500 likely voters in Arkansas. But, an Impact Management poll cited Feb. 19 by the Arkansas Times online puts the race at a tie 42 percent to 42 percent.
    And, the Rasmussen poll shows three percent for “other” candidates and a 12 percent undecided vote, while the Impact Management poll shows a 16 percent overall gap of other choices.
    The question is: Who gets the small group in the center, or who will turn out their base?” Bass noted. “Either way, it's at the margins.”
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