Friday, March 19, 2010


It’s an easier task to assess the political environment in the 4th Congressional District because, quite frankly, it is represented by incumbent Democratic Cong. Mike Ross.

Ross has been one of the most - if not the most - politically attuned Arkansas lawmaker with his constituents during the past year. He comes home nearly every weekend and not to kick back and relax. Often, he’s working some part of the district’s 29 counties.

When the wheels were falling off the health care debate, Ross became a national public face for the Blue Dog Democrats. He was an early reader of the tea leaves on the controversial cap-and-trade legislation – in large part due to his recognition of how it might impact El Dorado-based Murphy Oil, one of the largest companies in his district.

Whether you agree with his politics or not, Ross has sided with his constituents' sentiments in near-perfect lockstep.
  • For the reasons just outlined, The Arkansas Election Line ranks the 4th Congressional District “Safe Democrat.” Ross will have to screw up royally to give a Republican a thread of a chance to knock him out of office.
There are two Republicans who are vying for the nomination to take on that Herculean challenge. Glenn Gallas, a Garland County Republican, has solid roots in the district, particularly the Hot Springs area – a pivotal voting region in the district.

Gallas has strong ties with the TEA Party movement in the district, too. We think this will serve him well in attracting conservative voters to his candidacy.

His challenger is Beth Ann Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas from Magnolia, in the southern part of the 4th District. She brings a lot of district contacts and some name ID to the table from her pageant experience.

More notably, she served in former Gov. Mike Huckabee's administration. His endorsement and political assistance is expected if not already at work. Huckabee has deep roots in several quadrants of the 4th district and this should benefit Rankin.
  • Today, we rate the Republican primary a “Toss Up.”
Neither candidate has made much of a splash in terms of earned media or fundraising. It will be easier to determine a front-runner in this primary after first quarter fundraising reports are made public. Still, their candidacies are long-shots at best.

Jason Tolbert with The Tolbert Report – U.S. Congress, Dist. 4
Blake Rutherford with Blake’s Think Tank – U.S. Congress, Dist. 4