What’s so “Super” about Super Tuesday?

Arkansans voted in record numbers for Conservative Policies!

 By Brenda Vassaur Taylor and Joe Maynard

March 6, 2016


A simple recap. As many know, Commerce in Action (CIA) (affiliate to Conduit for Commerce and Conduit for Action) is policy driven, working to limit the size of government, reduce dependency on government, and opposes spending money we do not have (principles reflected in the AR Republican Party platform).

During the 2016 primaries, CIA participated on various levels in several state races. These included two Arkansas Supreme Court races, eight state house races, and three state senate races.

So, how did CIA fare?

As a policy focused organization, we must celebrate Super Tuesday, because in fact, CFC/CFA policy positions ruled the day!

  • Starting at the highest level (though not published), our Republican nominee for US President is Sen Ted Cruz. Arkansas Republican voters agreed. (The governor and his legislative team strongly support Rubio.)
  • Both Arkansas Supreme Court candidates were elected. Judge Dan Kemp soundly defeated Judge Courtney Goodson for the Chief Justice position (with the governor and team supporting Goodson.) Judge Shawn Womack likewise won the associate justice position against a liberal trial attorney. Your governor’s response was immediate (in spite of the 10 day pre-election reports showing Goodson outspent Kemp $727K to $271K), he wants to change the law so that he can appoint these judges rather than the people electing them.
  • One-half of our eight house candidates were successful, including incumbent, Rep Josh Miller.
  • Regarding our hope of changing the state senate in 2017—we did not fare so well, but our policies did. We lost all three races. Why? Simple—deceitful “messaging” and money. The opponents claimed to embrace “our policies” and sold that position through an unlimited amount of special interest dollars.

Here is “what happened” on an easy to share timeline:

With increased spending by two billion dollars per year (up 40%) and expanding government Medicaid dependency by 300,000 people (up 43%), the single biggest threat to economic freedom in AR in recent times is the choice made by our AR legislature in 2013 to expand Medicaid (“Private Option.”) Realize that the choice whether to expand Medicaid under Obamacare was the only choice offered to the states regarding, “how much Obamacare do you want?” Prior last month when the newly elected Louisiana Democrat governor expanded Medicaid through his own proclamation, Arkansas was the only southern state to opt into the Obamacare expansion. (This choice for expansion under Obamacare was pointed out by Gov Hutchinson in a national healthcare meeting on February 19, 2016, three days following his February 16 “early voting press conference” mentioned below.)[i]

So, it was in April 2013, Gov Beebe was able to recruit all Democrats and a slim Republican margin of legislators to go along with him. In February 2014, a second battle ensued when conservative Republican legislators kept promises to constitutes and tried to stop the expansion by cutting its funding. It was Sen Jane English who then traded her vote. She gave Gov Beebe her “yes” vote in exchange for his promises for a pet Work Force Training program.[ii]

In February 2015 the new Republican governor’s nephew, Sen Jim Hendren, passed SB96, the key to Obamacare Medicaid Expansion living to fight another day, while he sold it to his conservative legislators as the only way to “end it.” An optional step closer to socialized medicine, SB96 served as defense to get this expanded welfare program to the point in time it could be permanently enacted.

(Meanwhile, note that prior to the March 1 primary, the governor set the date for a special session of April 6 when he plans to permanently impose Obamacare Medicaid Expand on Arkansas, but under its new name—Arkansas Works.  Setting the special session after the primary (as well as the earlier primary date) incumbents were insured their opponents could not use their pro Obamacare ME votes against them in their bid for re-election.)

Now to February 16, 2016—the first day of early voting. That is the day that the governor, head of the Republican party, not only made unprecedented endorsements, but used his bully pulpit through a state-wide press conference at the Capitol to “christen” his self-serving candidates with the CFC/CFA policies. He stated that our “anti-Obamacare Medicaid Expansion” policy was the same as that held by his own candidates regardless of their prior voting record.[iii] And with a tsunami like “flash of special interest dollars” and the unprecedented help of the State Chamber of Commerce[iv], the deceitful message continued to be sold to a record number of “new Republican primary” voter.

The three senate and five house candidates serving as “legislators for the governor” (which were also opponents to eight of the candidates supported by CIA) were then encouraged and empowered to continue the myth ‘that their votes had always been to end the Private Option (Obamacare Medicaid Expansion) in Arkansas” because, as Sen Eddie Joe Williams put it, “the governor said so.[v]

Not only had these candidates made such bold statements in contradiction to the truth, but these candidates (with large banks of special interest dollars, the governor, and the State Chamber of Commerce) proceeded to perpetuate the myth to the next level and claimed their opponents were actually the ones who wanted to expand Obamacare Medicaid Expansion in Arkansas.[vi] (The most preposterous example of this claim was in the Rep Josh Miller’s race in which the governor’s candidate was awarded only 25% of the votes.)

Needless to say, to watch all this play out felt much like we were living in an alternate universe.

The results—Rep Donnie Copeland (SD34—against Sen Jane English) was defeated by 322 votes (from total votes of 13,052). RD Hopper (SD29—against Sen Eddie Joe Williams) earned 6,500 of the total 14,790 votes, falling short by 10 points. And Sharon Lloyd (SD7—against Rep Lance Eads) was defeated by 20 points (earning 4,289 votes.) Of special note is the voter turnout. Case in point–there were approximately two times the number of votes in this Presidential Republican primary in SD7 compared to last election (5,397 votes in 2012 compared to 10,575 in 2016.) Similar results are likely to be found across the state.   By virtue of Sharon’s willingness to run, a positive result did occur. Sen Jon Woods backed out of the race the last two days of filing. Woods served as sole Senate sponsor of Issue 3—doubling terms and salaries for legislators under the title–“Ethics Reform” in the 2014 elections.

Other than our policies winning these elections and proving to be the will of the conservative voters, were there other benefits to this endeavor? Only time will tell. One candidate who will not return to his position as House member in 2017 tells us he would do it 100,000 times over. So, obviously candidates believe so. For sure much has been revealed about the political establishment in Arkansas. They are no longer underground. There are at least eight senate and house races to study and learn how the establishment operates to get what it wants.

The political class or establishment have revealed themselves to be invested in an outcome which does not reflect party or principle. The governor lost no time in spinning these election results as a “mandate” for his own plans to permanently expand welfare in Arkansas with Obamacare Medicaid on April 6 (ignoring the fact that on February 16 he took great pains to proclaim that his candidates were against it.)

You will see others promoting the same victory across the state at conservative meetings in an attempt to sell the big government socialist policy they have now embraced. Democrats, liberals, and socialists are now their allies against the will of the majority in Arkansas. Their best hope is to convince you that it is hopeless to resist.

As a group of organizations which want economic freedom to prosper in our state, we have much work to do.

But as a result of the work and sacrifice of many in these races we are better equipped to get this transitional period in Arkansas behind us and on to electing conservative candidates followed by implementation of conservative policies in our state.

We thank the candidates and all those who worked and sacrificed with and for them. Rest –we have only just begun.




[i] https://soundcloud.com/paulharrell1776/gov-hutchinson-admits-arkansas-works-is-obamacare

[ii] http://www.arktimes.com/ArkansasBlog/archives/2014/02/18/what-it-took-to-buy-jane-englishs-vote

[iii] http://www.conduitforaction.org/asa-says-candidates-didnt-support-obamacare-then-says-its-obamacare/

[iv] More info to come with filings w/SOS by State Chamber Independent Expenditure Committee (IEC), etc

[v] http://lonokenews.net/cabot-star-herald/news/local/election-2016-williams-hopper-tangle-over-private-option.html; mailers and ads from his campaign carried that message…”because the Governor said I did.”

[vi] http://www.conduitforaction.org/roundup-of-recent-false-or-deceptive-claims-in-arkansas-legislative-races/