State Democratic Party not increasing filing fees for ’12

— Unlike the Republican Party, the state Democratic Party isn’t increasing filing fees for state and federal offices next year.

The Democratic Party had $1.53 million cash on hand at the end of September, after Gov. Mike Beebe contributed nearly $900,000 in leftover campaign funds to the party last December, and the party’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner in June raised nearly $500,000, party spokesman Candace Martin said.

“As the filing season approaches, we’ll have a more accurate idea how much filing fees will raise in the coming election cycle to support our Democratic candidates,” she said.

The period for candidates for state and federal offices to file runs from Feb. 23-March 1, according to the secretary of state.

The GOP’s cash on hand is about $33,000, state Republican Party spokesman Katherine Vasilos said.

The money difference became an opportunity for the parties’ spokesmen to offer spin:

The Democratic Party has more cash, Vasilos said, but it “has a serious disadvantage with President Barack Obama at the top of the ticket in 2012. No amount of money can hide the fact that state Democrats support the failed policies of Barack Obama, including the implementation of Obamacare in Arkansas. Gov. Beebe’s partisan contribution to the Democratic Party of Arkansas demonstrates how concerned he is about losing control of the state Legislature.”

Martin replied that Democrats “hold a significant fundraising advantage because Arkansans recognize the strength of our candidates. Republicans in Arkansas are struggling to move past the failed politicians within their own party who act as if they are above the law like highspeed [Sen.] Bruce Holland, [and] hit-and-run [Rep.] Mark Biviano. ... The rising stars of the Republican Party of Arkansas leave a lot to be desired when it comes to offering anything substantive, and Arkansans don’t want to rally behind Arkansas Republicans’ fledgling candidates.”

The license plate of Biviano of Searcy turned up as a suspect vehicle in a Little Rock police report, but he disputed the report, which was based on an account given by a woman who reported her vehicle had been struck and who stood by her account. Holland of Greenwood was convicted by Perry County District Judge Elizabeth Wise of fleeing, careless and prohibited driving, and improper passing, charges stemming from a Jan. 24 chase on Arkansas 10. Holland is appealing the conviction.

The Republican Party’s executive committee voted weeks ago to raise filing fees after the GOP won nearly a majority of the state’s constitutional offices and legislative seats and three of the four U.S. House seats in November 2010. How much the fees will raise for the party can’t be known until the filing period is over because it will depend on how many candidates file and which offices they seek, Vasilos said.

Democrats usually raise more in filing fees than the GOP, largely because they have had more candidates running.

Democrats and Republicans filing to run for a state House of Representatives seat will pay a fee of $3,000 apiece. Those running for prosecuting attorney will fork over a $7,500 fee each.

But Republicans filing for a U.S. House seat will pay $12,500 apiece, compared with an $8,000 fee for Democrats. And Republicans filing to run for a state Senate seat will pay $7,500, compared with the $4,500 fee for Democrats.

The Libertarian Party’s fee will be $250 for congressional candidates, $100 for state Senate and House candidates, party chairman Rodger Paxton of Marion said.

The Green Party’s fees will be $500 for congressional candidates and $100 for state Senate and House candidates, a party spokesman said.

The state Senate comprises 20 Democrats and 15 Republicans, and the state House of Representatives has 54 Democrats and 46 Republicans. A majority is 18 in the Senate, 51 in the House.

The Democrats control four of the constitutional offices: governor, attorney general, treasurer and auditor. The Republicans control the other three: lieutenant governor, secretary of state and land commissioner.

The GOP holds the 1st, 2nd and 3rd congressional districts seats, and the Democrats hold the 4th District, but U.S. Rep. Mike Ross of Prescott said in July that he won’t run for re-election and might run for governor in 2014.

The filing fee for Republican presidential candidates is $25,000 next year. The fee for Democratic candidates hasn’t been determined yet.

Arkansas, Pages 9 on 11/01/2011