A Boozman Blowout in Arkansas?

Boozman vs. Lincoln

After Sen. Blanche Lambert Lincoln (D.-Ark.) won a dramatic Democratic primary run-off over Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, the national press concluded that this was a case of the “moderate” defeating the “liberal.” In becoming the first Arkansas senator to emerge triumphant from a run-off since conservative Democrat John McClellan in 1972, they observed, Lincoln had overcome an opponent who excoriated her for opposing the “public option” in healthcare and who had won the backing of organized labor after the incumbent came out against “card check” (which would have severely gutted the secret ballot in union elections). 

Democrats still nominated “moderates,” the so-called “experts” concluded.

“And the problem with all that is it just isn’t so,” says Rep. John Boozman, the Republican nominee against Lincoln. “The Democratic race was one of the left versus the far, far, left. OK, the left won and my opponent is someone who voted with Barack Obama 95% of the time and, in fact, cast the deciding vote in the Senate to pass healthcare last December.”

Lincoln (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 19%) now faces, in Boozman’s words, “a very different type of opponent who is in touch with Arkansas and its values.” The five-term congressman and optometrist topped a field of eight to win the Republican nomination with 53% of the vote.

Rather than only denouncing Lincoln’s record, Boozman (lifetime ACU rating: 92.5%) prefers also to discuss his own agenda to “help Arkansas turn the corner.” 

“Jobs, jobs, and jobs—that’s what I’m about,” says the 59-year-old conservative hopeful. “You create jobs through empowering businesses, giving them incentives to expand, and cutting taxes that hinder growth, such as the capital gains tax. And you make some hard decisions: no more stimulus packages, more cutting waste from government—and that could mean entire programs, such as that healthcare bill Congress passed this year. I say repeal it completely and then pass a bill that applies good commonsense business practices and cost-savings to healthcare.”

On that point, John Boozman speaks from experience. Before he was elected to Congress in ’01, Boozman was an optometrist who, with ophthalmologist brother Faye, ran a clinic with 85 employees that handled more than 85,000 patients. As he recalled, “I met payrolls, and dealt with different health care plans from different patients. I understand the real world.” 

Every so often, Boozman is reminded how his brother Faye, who served as Gov. Mike Huckabee’s state health director before his sudden death in ’05, was Lincoln’s first Republican opponent back in the very Democratic year of 1998. Is it not poetic justice, some wonder, that John Boozman should be opposing Lincoln in what appears to be a good Republican year? 

“I don’t see it that way, he says. “Since 1998 was a different year, a different time and issues were different. We have to look at the issues of today and of the future if we’re going to restore the nation the ‘greatest generation’ left for us.”

(Boozman for Senate, 11300 Financial Center Parkway, Suite #1200, Little Rock, Ark. 72211; www.boozmanforarkansas)

Terry vs. White

After 12 years in the House—the longest stint for any U.S. Representative from Nebraska’s 2nd District (Omaha) in more than a half-century—conservative Republican Lee Terry is resigned to the fact he will always have to face a spirited Democratic challenge.

“This is a classic swing district—one of those you always read about being ‘in play,’ ” said Terry (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 89.82%) with a sigh. “And with 40% of the registered voters Republicans, 40% Democrats and the rest independents, I’m afraid it’s always going to be that way.”

Clearly, 2010 is no exception, as State Sen. Tom White has all-out backing from state Democrats, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the Service Employees International Union, and President Obama’s own Organizing for America group. 

“In fact, the SEIU has its own ‘527’ to do my opponent’s dirty work by attacking me,” says Terry, “That lets him appear above the fray and sound ‘moderate.’ He learned how to do that from [ former Nebraska Democratic Gov. and Sen.] Bob Kerrey, a liberal who always sounded moderate.

Well, I’m running against the state senator who led the fight to overturn our Republican Gov. Dave Heineman’s vetoes of spending measures in the budget seven times. And our state right-to-life organization can’t get him even to say whether he’s pro-life or pro-abortion. That doesn’t sound ‘moderate’ to me!”

Facing political guerrilla warfare every two years has not made Terry dip his political sails. He still fights proposed tax increases as he did on the Omaha City Council and, in a year when social issues appear to be downplayed, Terry proudly proclaims: “I love the social issues. I oppose abortion in all circumstances except to save the life of the mother. Respecting human life is the foundation of my moral code.”

These days, Terry admits he spends much of his time “fighting the good fight by voting ‘no’ on the Obama expansion of government. Whether it’s healthcare or cap and trade, I stand firm and, after some of this stuff passes and I feel like a steam-roller ran over me, I get up, dust myself off, and fight another battle. That’s what it’s like for conservatives these days.”

That, of course, may change if Lee Terry has more company on his side of the House aisle after November. But in trying to elect more of their own to Congress, conservatives should not overlook one of their own already there: Lee Terry, who has long fought good fights and never gives up.

(Terry for Congress, P.O. Box 540098, Boys Town Station, Omaha, Neb.  68154; 402-691-0333)

Hurt vs. Perriello

For more than a generation, Democrats who represented Virginia’s 5th District in Congress were genuinely independent Democrats: William M. Tuck, a former governor of the Old Dominion, took the “pay-as-you-go” fiscal philosophy of his state to the House from 1953-68; Dan Daniel (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 71%), a spirited pro-defense vote on the House Armed Services Committee, who represented the 5th from 1968-87; L.F. Payne (lifetime ACU rating: 43%), businessman and Virginia Military Institute graduate, who was the 5th’s congressman from 1988-96; and Virgil Goode (lifetime ACU rating: 92%), who first won his seat as a Democrat but, as the national party moved leftward, became an independent and finally a Republican.

Two years ago, Democrat Tom Perriello came out of nowhere and vowed to be the same kind of “independent Democrat” that historically had represented the sprawling district that stretches from Charlottesville South to Danville on the North Carolina border. In a year when Democrats were energized and for the first time in years had a strong candidate in the 5th, Perriello upset Republican Goode by about 727 votes. 

“And he’s anything but what he promised to be,” says State Sen. Robert Hurt, Perriello’s Republican opponent this year. “Voting for the healthcare bill and cap and trade is not ‘independent minded’—it’s ‘Pelosi minded.’ And the only reason he didn’t vote for the ‘card check’ that the unions want so much is that there hasn’t been a vote on it.”

To call Hurt the polar opposite of Perriello (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 18%) is no exaggeration. A graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and a former prosecutor, Hurt has complied a solidly conservative record during six years in the Virginia House of Delegates and three years in the Senate. Having signed the no-tax pledge of Americans for Tax Reform, Hurt was in the forefront of the successful fight to repeal Virginia’s estate tax. 

“And my opponent wants the federal ‘death tax’ restored,” he says. “And he says he wants the Bush tax cuts ‘temporarily extended.’ Whenever they then run out, that means taxes go up. I want them made permanent—and taxes to stay down.”

You get the picture. Tom Perriello is a Democrat, all right, but no “independent Democrat.” Robert Hurt follows the noble tradition of past congressmen from the 5th District, regardless of party. With support from his fellow conservatives, he can restore that tradition.

(Robert Hurt for Congress, P.O. Box 2, Chatham, Va.  24531; 434-432-4600;