Leader Blues

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TOP STORY >> Republicans slam Lincoln

State Sen. Gilbert Baker (left) meets David Mitchell and Brent Cooper, both of Cabot, during a lunchtime campaign stop Monday at Colton’s Steak House and Grill in Cabot. Baker is running for the U.S. Senate in the Republican primary.

By JOHN HOFHEIMER

Leader senior staff writer

Lonoke County Republicans, spoiling for a good fight and vowing to banish Democrats — Sen. Blanche Lincoln in particular — from power in the nation’s capital, heard what they came for when state Sen. Gilbert Baker and Sen. Kim Hendren, two of nine GOP hopefuls, spoke at Grandpa’s Bar-B-Que in Cabot on Monday night.

Both men, along with state Rep. Davy Carter (R-Cabot) and others, took a shot at the two Lonoke County officials who are drawing state retirement benefits while serving as county treasurer and county assessor.

Karol DePriest is treasurer and Jerry Adams is assessor, both Democrats.

Carter was warmly received when he referred disparagingly to “Barack Hussein” and “Blanche Lambert.” Lambert is Lincoln’s maiden name.

He accused her of “voting in our face every time she pushes a button.”

He warned that when the General Assembly meets in its first regular off-year session beginning Tuesday that he would be voting against all bills, no matter how good they might be, because the session was supposed to be dedicated to financial matters only.

“We’re not going to open the floodgates,” Carter said.

“America’s at a crossroads,” state Sen. Baker (R-Conway) told approximately 35 local Republican officeholders, hopefuls and others at the gathering.

Apparently a campaign catchphrase or theme, he said that several times during his 20-minute talk.

“If we don’t take Blanche out now, we’re done for,” Baker said.

“We’re going to send her back to Virginia,” which, he said, is where she really lives.

“I’m not accepting any earmarks,” Baker said. “I’ve already signed Grover Norquist’s pledge not to raise taxes.” Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington.

He called Lincoln as a liberal Democrat who yields to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and President Obama.

Baker, who leads a large field in the Republican primary with about $800,000 in his war chest, said voters must consider electability, “not just another 2004, when we just had our say.”

LEADS LINCOLN

He said he led Lincoln 51 percent to 39 percent in a Rasmussen poll of likely voters last week.

He criticized Lincoln for voting for the health-care bill and favoring a climate bill that he said would raise utility bills by $100 a month.

“She voted twice for the health-care bill,” Baker said, which is a sweetheart deal for Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson’s constituents.

“She voted with Pelosi, Reid and Obama.”

He accused her of turning off her office phones so she wouldn’t have to hear from Arkansans.

“We blew it in 2004,” he said, when she was re-elected in a race against former state Sen. Jim Holt of Springdale. He’s running again in the Republican primary, along with eight others.

With a bill to ban gay marriage on the ballot, it was a perfect time for conservatives to take her out in 2004, Baker said.

“She voted for (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia) Sotomayer, who has trampled on the Second Amendment,” he said. “Senator Gilbert Baker wouldn’t have confirmed her.”

“The Bush tax cuts are going away,” he warned.

HENDREN CHARMS

Hendren, a former Democrat who is in his sixth term in the state Senate, spoke with an easy, good-old boy Gravette charm, alternately attacking the Democrats or drawing laughter.

Of his unsuccessful run for governor in 1982, he said, “They told me I’d have won that if I’d been married to Hillary—but it wasn’t worth it.”

Criticizing President Obama, he said, “I’m not sure you can understand (regular people) when you spend your life in an ivory tower.”

Hendren, who is 71, promised that if he’s elected senator, “two terms and I’m out.”

He criticized the move to double the scholarship amounts based on the Arkansas lottery’s first few months’ revenues.

He said those decisions were improperly being made behind closed doors.

Hendren’s remarks frequently covered the kinds of local Arkansas issues he’s addressed since coming to the General Assembly in 1979.

“We’ve got a balanced budget, but (the state owes) $300 million in unemployment taxes,” he said.

“Now you don’t have to prove you can’t find a job,” he said. “You just have to say so.”

“He who doesn’t work shouldn’t eat,” Hendren insisted.

“We’re not teaching the Constitution to kids,” he lamented.

“Sam Walton campaigned for me,” he said of an early election, referring to Walmart’s founder.