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Fighting for the Soul of the GOP – In Arkansas

Posted on 03 June 2014

Guest post by Ben Smith


A state senate race in Arkansas represents much of what this & the next election will be about.  Arkansas state representative John Burris will face off against upstart small businessman Scott Flippo in a June 10 run-off.  So why does this race matter?

Burris was a key proponent for Obamacare’s Medicaid Expansion in red-state Arkansas (R+15).  We mentioned this fight months ago when Arkansas Speaker Davy Carter (R) held the legislature hostage until he had the votes to pass the so-called Private Option.  We also noted that costs have surpassed original estimates, yet other red-states, with pressure from the Chamber & hospital associations, are considering Arkansas’ example.  And Burris is one of its biggest proponents.  Conservative organizations like Chamber-alternative Conduit for Commerce have been trying to educate the public on the burdens Burris & Carter have placed on Arkansas taxpayers, and this election could be a course correction.

Increasingly, establishment Republicans have shown distaste for continued opposition to Obamacare.  They have moved on to authorizing other crony-capitalist institutions like the Export Import Bank.  But these are not the only red flags for establishment Republicans, exemplified by Burris.

A recent ethics complaint filed against Burris highlights many of the other problems with the Republican establishment.  We have heard time & again about politicians living out-of-district, abusing public monies for personal use, and not being forthright in financial disclosures.  All three are alleged against Burris in the complaint.

While many conservative legislators have come out in support of Flippo, he faces an uphill fight in the run-off against well-connected Burris.  But removing establishment Republicans like Burris will be central in the fight for the soul of the GOP, and its capacity to win over voters in 2014 & beyond.