mcloudy.png
Monday June 24th, 2019 8:00PM

Arkansas race shows Democrats' hope for red state wins

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Running for a congressional seat in a red state that went for Donald Trump two years ago, Clarke Tucker talks often about his bout with cancer and the federal care health law that expanded coverage for those without insurance.

"I beat cancer here and became one of the million Arkansans with a pre-existing condition," he says in one television ad, standing in front of a cancer institute in Little Rock.

But Tucker doesn't talk much about being a Democrat, something that's a deal breaker for many voters in a state that hasn't sent one to the U.S. House in eight years. The fact that the 37-year-old state legislator is making a surprisingly competitive bid to unseat a Republican congressman is boosting his party's hopes that it can still find issues that attract voters in conservative places.

Tucker is challenging incumbent Republican French Hill in the 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses Little Rock and seven central Arkansas counties. The urban section gives Democrats a better chance than the state's other three districts, which are mostly rural. Nationally, Democrats' hopes of flipping 23 Republican seats in November and regaining control of the House may depend on winning some races in Trump country like this one.

In 2016, Trump won 52 percent of the district's vote. To prevail now, Democrats will need a heavy turnout in Little Rock and its surrounding county, which is about 37 percent black and 6 percent Hispanic. They'll also need to make inroads in the conservative suburbs and farm country around it.

Hill, a 61-year-old former banker, easily won his second term in 2016 by more than 20 percentage points, but this time is on defense. He greeted Tucker to the race over the summer with a television ad portraying him as an ally of national Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton. A new TV ad criticizes Tucker for the times he voted "present" or didn't vote on controversial bills in the state House.

Tucker has made health care a central theme of his campaign while distancing himself from national Democrats — saying that, if elected, he wouldn't support Pelosi as the party's House leader — and rarely brings up President Trump.

"I'm really focused on the people I want to represent, the people out here and the issues affecting them," Tucker said as he went door-to-door in a Little Rock neighborhood.

The great-great grandson of a late 19th and early 20th century senator and governor whose statue is on display at the U.S. Capitol, Tucker comes from a well-known family steeped in the district's politics. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee saw Tucker as the party's best chance for winning Hill's seat.

Tucker has bombarded the district with ads citing his bladder cancer diagnosis. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy last year and is now cancer-free. Tucker said the experience and House Republicans' vote to repeal the health care law motivated him to challenge Hill. (The repeal later failed in the Senate.)

"The notion of having access to care, with a pre-existing condition, without going bankrupt or dying became a lot less abstract for our family," Tucker said at a campaign rally at Philander Smith College, a historically black school in Little Rock.

Democrats believe the health insurance issue resonates especially in Arkansas, where 17 percent of the population lives under the poverty line. Arkansas expanded Medicaid under its former Democratic governor and kept the program under his Republican successor, although with new work requirements. An additional 280,000 people received coverage under the expansion.

At the Philander Smith rally, Tucker asked those gathered in a packed room to raise their hand whether they had a pre-existing condition. Most hands went up.

Tucker is counting on his personal history to land the message. Other Democrats in tough races are using a similar approach, including North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who talks about being a breast cancer survivor in a TV ad, and Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin, who has highlighted her own pre-existing condition from a childhood illness similar to spinal meningitis. The issue isn't surefire. Former Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor emphasized his own cancer diagnosis in his unsuccessful re-election bid in 2014.

Hill's campaign fund dwarfs Tucker's — at $1.6 million, about four times his challenger's total. At least one Republican political action committee is running online ads and sending mailers targeting Tucker. The Democrats' House Majority PAC has returned fire with online ads criticizing Hill.

There's been no recent public polling in the race, and the Republican congressman denies that the heated activity shows that he's worried.

"I haven't seen any polling data whatsoever that would indicate that I have more of a race than normal this year," Hill said. "But I see financial resources that cause me to step up, pay strong attention, run an aggressive campaign."

Hill says he has no regrets about voting to repeal the federal health care law, which he calls "broken."

Tucker's hopes rest on voters like Nicy Johnson, 80, who attended Tucker's rally at Philander Smith. She supported Hill two years ago, even though he promised then to try to repeal the health care law, but said she's switching to Tucker now.

"I thought it was to get the vote. ... I didn't think they'd do it," she said.

___

Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

___

Sign up for the AP's weekly newsletter showcasing our best reporting from the Midwest and Texas: http://apne.ws/2u1RMfv

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General House Election News, AP Business
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Arkansas race shows Democrats' hope for red state wins
A Democrat running for a congressional seat in red-state Arkansas is making a surprisingly competitive bid to unseat a Republican congressman by talking about his bout with cancer and the federal health care law
10:03AM ( 12 minutes ago )
GOP lawyer caught in crossfire on Kavanaugh, Russia probe
Bill Burck is a Republican insider who's being pushed into the limelight by two of Washington's biggest political dramas: the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh
8:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP insider caught in crossfire on Kavanaugh, Russia probe
Bill Burck is a Republican insider who's being pushed into the limelight by two of Washington's biggest political dramas: the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
8:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Challenge for Congress: Consider Kavanaugh, keep lights on
Keep the government running and confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice. Those are the big-ticket items GOP leaders hope to accomplish as lawmakers look to wrap up their work and head home to campaign for the November elections.
7:41AM ( 2 hours ago )
Foreign minister to Germans: get off the couch, fight racism
Germany's foreign minister tells his fellow countrymen they're too lazy when it comes to battling racism and fighting for democracy
7:32AM ( 2 hours ago )
Aretha's lack of a will could make things rocky for heirs
As Aretha Franklin's four sons and other family members move on from her funeral in Detroit, they are left with the potentially tall task of finding out how many millions she was worth, and divvying it up, a process that could take years
6:57AM ( 3 hours ago )
AP National News
McCain Notebook: Tributes, memories, tears, civility lessons
McCain Notebook: Tribute in Washington includes memories, tears and lessons in civility
10:20PM ( 11 hours ago )
The Latest: Former presidents, family pay tribute to McCain
Former President Barack Obama has paid tribute to his one-time political rival, delivering a eulogy for the late Arizona Sen. John McCain at Washington National Cathedral
8:14PM ( 14 hours ago )
High court pick Kavanaugh and his carefully constructed life
Conservative yet complex, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh has lived a carefully constructed life that checks all the boxes of the Washington insider
6:59PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
GOP-led Legislature may stymie 2 Michigan ballot drives
Michigan Republicans may stymie a pair of fall ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage and require paid sick leave by adopting a new tactic: pass the laws themselves, then change them later
11:12AM ( 23 hours ago )
GOP makes Pelosi issue even for Democrats who keep distance
Democratic congressional candidates across the U.S. are facing attacks that link them to Nancy Pelosi even if they have distanced themselves publicly from the top House Democrat
11:08AM ( 23 hours ago )
Balloon poking fun at Mayor Sadiq Khan flies over London
A giant balloon depicting London Mayor Sadiq Khan in a yellow bikini has been launched over Parliament Square in the ceremonial heart of the city
9:46AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Online Congress News
Asian Games stir Indonesia's pride, boost Jokowi's campaign
Indonesia's successful hosting of the 18th Asian Games and a record haul of gold medals for the country's athletes has swelled national pride, providing a boost to the re-election campaign of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo
5:44AM ( 4 hours ago )
Brazil leftist party insists on banned candidate da Silva
Brazilians are reacting with a mixture of satisfaction, sadness and resignation to a decision by the country's top electoral court barring former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from October's presidential election
9:26PM ( 12 hours ago )
Brazil has mixed feelings over barring of da Silva candidacy
Brazilians are reacting with a mixture of satisfaction, sadness and resignation to a decision by the country's top electoral court barring former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from October's presidential election
7:12PM ( 15 hours ago )
AP Elections
Pressley trying to be 1st black woman from Mass. in Congress
Ayanna Pressley is attempting one of toughest political feats in Massachusetts _ persuading Democratic voters to reject a long-time incumbent during a primary
11:26AM ( 3 days ago )
Arizona features 2 open House seats being eyed by Democrats
Former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick emerged from a competitive Democratic primary to win the nomination in an open Arizona House seat.
3:38AM ( 4 days ago )
Judges: Congress map still unlawful with partisan bias
Federal judges have affirmed their earlier decision striking North Carolina's congressional districts as unconstitutional because Republicans drew them with excessive partisanship
1:59AM ( 5 days ago )
General House Election News
UK prime minister says no, again, to second Brexit vote
Britain's prime minister has again spoken out against calls for a second referendum on Britain's decision to split with the European Union
7:15AM ( 3 hours ago )
China-Africa trade deficit prominent at conference
African banker: Continent's leaders likely to press Beijing over trade deficit at conference this week
2:07AM ( 8 hours ago )
African banker: Trade deficit prominent at China conference
African banker: Continent's leaders like to press Beijing over trade deficit at conference this week
1:44AM ( 8 hours ago )
AP Business
2018's most volatile candidate (it's Trump) isn't on ballot
President Donald Trump loves to take his freewheeling political stylings on the road on behalf of his fellow Republicans and he's raring for the sprint to Nov. 6
9:34AM ( 42 minutes ago )
GOP lawyer caught in crossfire on Kavanaugh, Russia probe
Bill Burck is a Republican insider who's being pushed into the limelight by two of Washington's biggest political dramas: the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh
8:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
GOP insider caught in crossfire on Kavanaugh, Russia probe
Bill Burck is a Republican insider who's being pushed into the limelight by two of Washington's biggest political dramas: the Russia investigation of Robert Mueller and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
8:36AM ( 1 hour ago )
Russians rally against change in pension age
Russians are holding rallies throughout the country to protest a government plan to raise the age for receiving state pensions
8:07AM ( 2 hours ago )
Challenge for Congress: Consider Kavanaugh, keep lights on
Keep the government running and confirm Brett Kavanaugh as the next Supreme Court justice. Those are the big-ticket items GOP leaders hope to accomplish as lawmakers look to wrap up their work and head home to campaign for the November elections.
7:41AM ( 2 hours ago )