The Blue Arkansas Heroes page is dedicated to recognizing candidates and politicians that stood up for progressive values over the course of the year in some significant way.
Bill Halter (U.S. Senate)-In response to an incredible draft effort, Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter put his political career on the line, giving up a safe bet for reelection to stand up to conservadem Blanche Lincoln in the Democratic primary. Bill’s campaign tapped incredible energy from the grassroots and brought new hope to those taken advantage of by the Democratic party and left out of the political system as a whole. In the end, the Halter for Senate campaign lost a heartbreakingly close race, but none the less, labor, environmentalists, minorities, and progressives came within a hair of topping an incumbent with the full backing of her party in a conservative machine state. For having taken on this incredibly tough challenge, and standing up for all of us, we will always be grateful to Bill Halter.
David Cook (AR-01)-State Representative David Cook ran an underfunded campaign for Congress in AR-01, but none the less he stood up for a number of progressive positions, from health care reform to taking on Wall Street. After his respectable third place finish, Representative Cook continued to aid those of us fighting for change in Arkansas by endorsing more progressive minded candidates running up and down the ballot. For those reasons, and for being a stand up, straight shooting, honorable public servant, has become a Blue Arkansas hero whose efforts won’t be forgotten.
Jay Barth (State Senate district 34)-Jay Barth made an extraordinary effort to become a progressive champion in the state legislature. Had he been elected, he would not only have made history as the first openly gay man elected to state office, but he would have given district 34 a truly progressive voice and vote. Sadly, his opponent in the primary, Linda Poindexter Chesterfield, saw fit to stoop to gay baiting and race baiting in order to win the election, rather then trying to win it with honor and dignity. None the less, Jay himself ran an honorable campaign, and would have served the district with distinction had he been elected.
Joyce Elliott (AR-02)-Joyce Elliott is a trail blazer. She was the first African American candidate nominated by the Democratic Party for federal office, and she never shied away from progressives values in the state legislature, in the primary, or in the general election. The campaign may not have worked out, but we never had to worry about Senator Elliott taking an awful stance on an issue or adopting frames that undermined our party and our values as we did with many other candidates and no matter the odds she stood her ground and kept going with a smile on her face and a positive message. While it’s a shame that she didn’t win this race, she opened doors and laid the groundwork for others to do so in the future. Doing that with so many people telling her she couldn’t and shouldn’t deserves recognition as it is, but I’m sure that as she goes back to work in the state senate we will have plenty of reason to reward her with a spot on this page in the future.
Vic Snyder-This list would not be complete without Vic Snyder. After years of being the most progressive voice in the Arkansas congressional delegation, Vic spent his last year in Congress doing what he did best, the right thing. We never once had to worry about Vic’s vote, never once had to name him and shame him, never once had to complain about him. What’s more, he fought hard for Joyce Elliott as she campaigned to keep his seat, taking on the Dem-Gazette and even shaving his trademark moustache for a fundraiser. Thanks Congressman for your years of service, you will be missed.