View Full Version : Arkansas GOP Head, "All We Need Is Some Attacks On American Soil"

06-03-2007, 06:38 PM
GOP chief: New strategy key


Posted on Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Republican Party of Arkansas, which was beaten decisively in last year’s election, needs to dedicate itself to running next time on an anti-tax, pro-highway and pro-education agenda, its new chairman said.

Bryant businessman Dennis Milligan also said the party faithful need to run for more local offices.

Milligan said former Gov. Mike Huckabee appointed many Republicans to the state’s boards and commission during the past decade, and they would be excellent candidates for local government offices, such as prosecuting attorney, sheriff and quorum court or city council members.

“If you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves,” said Milligan, who also is chairman of the Saline County Republican Party. “If you develop a good solid county Republican foundation, then the top is going to take care of itself.”

Milligan promises that under his leadership the party will be active statewide.

“We are not just going to be sitting here in the city of Little Rock and hoping the best for Boone County, Columbia County, Benton County or Desha County,” he said.

The GOP’s State Committee promoted Milligan from treasurer to chairman on May 19 to succeed Sen. Gilbert Baker of Conway. He said the party hasn’t focused enough “on getting the candidates to step forward to run.”

“I am very proud of what we have accomplished, but anything can be improved,” said the 49-year-old owner of Water Treatment Services Inc. who attends The Church at Rock Creek in Little Rock. Huckabee attends the same church.

Last November, the Republicans lost control of the governor and lieutenant governor offices and three legislative seats to the Democrats. The Democrats now control the state’s two U. S. Senate seats, three of four congressional seats, all seven state constitutional offices and 102 of 135 legislative seats.

But Milligan is a bit of an unknown in some political circles.

Senate Republican leader Denny Altes of Fort Smith, Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe and state Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney of Little Rock said they don’t know Milligan.

Ten days before Milligan was elected as the party chairman, a staunch supporter of former state Sen. Jim Holt of Springdale warned fellow conservatives that Milligan wants the party to run away from its core social issues.

“That philosophy is just as absurd and dangerous as [U. S. Senate Majority Leader ] Harry Reid’s public statement that we’ve already lost the war in Iraq,” retired Jonesboro teacher Debbie Pelley wrote in an email that she said was distributed to thousands of conservatives in Arkansas.

“Taking that stand will do nothing but guarantee defeat,” she declared.

Milligan said Pelley misinterpreted his remarks that he wants the party to focus more on fiscal issues. He said he doesn’t intend for the party to abandon social issues at all.

House Republican leader Johnny Key, R-Mountain Home, called Pelley’s e-mail “bogus.”

“To say that Dennis is not a social conservative is misreading his record, his campaigns that he has run, and it is taking a couple of statements where he said, ‘We need to focus on other issues,’ and totally twisting those statements and [making ] him look like something he is not,” he said.

In 2002 and 2004, Milligan narrowly lost the District 29 state House race to Rep. Janet Johnson, D-Bryant.

Pelley said the problem is the state GOP is run by businessmen who balk at financing the campaigns of candidates, such as Holt, who represent the values of the Republican base.

“I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but we got more votes than any other Republican who ran for statewide office last time,” Holt said.

Still, he said he wants to help Milligan be successful.

Last November, Holt lost the lieutenant governor’s race to former Clinton administration official Bill Halter by a margin of 57 percent to 43 percent, after falling short of knocking off U. S. Sen. Blanche Lincoln in 2004.

Milligan described himself as both a fiscal conservative and social conservative.

“I am a pro-life individual. I do believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. I am opposed to homosexuals adopting children. We are talking Dennis Milligan the man, and that isn’t necessarily the view expressed by every Republican, but those are my views.”

As a businessman, Milligan said he probably “brings to the table a little more concern about our taxes, our growth, our jobs.

I am just really caught up in trying to do and be part of anything that we can do to encourage job growth here, because obviously the more people we have working... the tax burden decreases for all of us.”

Milligan said he hopes to persuade Republican candidates to run for office under the broad goals of cutting taxes and stopping tax increases, improving highways to promote economic development, and finding ways to more efficiently spend tax dollars on education.

“That is just something near and dear to my heart, and I hope to be able to get the current legislators and candidates to maybe buy in on that. Again, it’s very basic,” he said.

This year, the Democraticdominated Legislature approved about $ 200 million a year in tax cuts and bolstered state funding for the public schools. Last week, the state Supreme Court ruled that the state is providing an adequate and equitable education to public school students, ending a 15-year-old lawsuit.

Milligan said it’s a legitimate goal for the GOP to strive to increase its number of House seats from 25 to 30 in next year’s elections. Republicans lost several close races to Democrats last November, he noted.

He said he hasn’t ruled out running next year for the District 29 seat, which is held by Johnson, who is barred from seeking re-election under term limits.

Gwatney, a former state senator, said Republicans will have a hard time winning 30 House seats in next year’s election.

“At the end of the day, [Milligan ] is going to have to deal with a popular Democratic governor, whose agenda Arkansans identify with, and people are going to want to be part of Gov. Beebe’s team,” said Gwatney.

Milligan said that Beebe is a talented and experienced politician.

“If you give me a $ 900 million surplus, I probably could make things look pretty good,” he said, referring to the state’s projected surplus of $ 919 million by the end of this month.

Milligan said Beebe enjoyed “a great honeymoon” in this year’s legislative session. “Next time around will be a little different story. We’ll find the real capabilities of Gov. Beebe probably the second time around,” he said.

Beebe replied that it’s a challenge to be governor and vowed to “meet the needs of the people. We will underpromise and overdeliver just like we have and restore the faith of the people [in state government ].”

Gwatney said the state Democratic Party’s No. 1 priority next year is re-electing U. S. Sen. Mark Pryor and U. S. Reps. Marion Berry, Mike Ross and Vic Snyder.

Milligan said he’s talked to several possible candidates for Pryor’s seat so far.

He declined to take a stance on President Bush’s latest immigration bill.

“That is between the president and Congress, and I am just going to let them hash it out and work it out,” Milligan said. “I just think that is something for probably smarter people than me to figure out. It is a tough situation either way, but something definitely needs to be done.”

He said he’s “150 percent” behind Bush on the war in Iraq.

“At the end of the day, I believe fully the president is doing the right thing, and I think all we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [Sept. 11, 2001 ], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country,” Milligan said.

He said he’s not supporting any particular Republican presidential candidate in next year’s primary now that he’s the party chairman, though he contributed to Huckabee’s presidential campaign before he was elevated to the chairmanship.

“I am happy for any of them that are putting their name on the line and running,” he said, “and I certainly wish Gov. Huckabee the very, very best.”

06-03-2007, 06:43 PM
To bad it won't happen and there party sucks.