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Our picks this election

A review of our favorite candidates by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette | May 20, 2012 at 3:13 a.m.

— TO SUM UP, here are the candidates we’re endorsing this primary season. While early voting has already begun and is just about over, election day-please don’t forget-is Tuesday. Let’s start at the top of the ticket:

Mitt Romney for president of the United States-because he has a vision of what this country has been and can be again: a land of opportunity. And he’s shown the kind of practical competence-in business, in government, as a presidential candidate-to make that vision real once again. As opposed to a failing and sometimes flailing president whose ideological reflexes have not been enough to make good on the hope and change he once so glibly promised. And keeps promising without delivering.

Mitt Romney hasn’t just talked about creating jobs but created them. He’s turned big deficits into big surpluses time and again in both government (see Massachusetts) and private enterprise. He’s made his compromises in policy, like any successful politician, but not principle. Here’s hoping his next successful turnaround venture will be the American economy. And that, once he becomes his party’s official nominee, he will consider a running mate like General David Petraeus, who has exemplified grace under pressure, aka courage. The general’s record of accomplishment in military and foreign affairs in challenging times would complement Mitt Romney’s own in domestic affairs.

It’s time for a change-not just change but change for the better. Instead of continuing to follow a political strategy of Divide and Conquer that can only deepen our divisions, it’s time to unite and revive the American Dream.

The country hungers for substance in its president, not just catchwords like Hope and Change. As with justice, hope forever delayed is hope denied. Change that’s only talked about isn’t change at all till it acquires substance. And substance, not slogans, is what Mr. Romney offers. Let’s take him up on his promise-and America’s.

Tom Cotton for Congress in the Republican primary in the Fourth Congressional District. The times are no longer a-changin’. They done changed. Pundits say whoever wins the Republican primary in the Fourth Congressional District of Arkansas is probably going to be the favorite come the general election. In the Fourth Congressional District of Arkansas. Some of us still can’t get used to thinking of South Arkansas as Republican country. But it is these days, like so much of what used to be the Solid (Democratic) South.

Sure, Jay Dickey held this seat for a while-an exception to a long rule-but since when does winning a Republican primary give a candidate a head start in any election in southern Arkansas? Maybe since Arkansas became a real two-party state.

Tom Cotton’s résumé could’ve been ripped straight out of a movie script. After growing up in Dardanelle, Ark., he went off to Harvard for his book learnin’. He became a lawyer. He clerked for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals. He was on his way. To big things in law. But everything had changed as of September 11th, 2001. He decided he’d join the Army.

When he did, this bright, young well educated lawyer surely could’ve signed up for the Judge Advocate Corps-and proved a pretty good military lawyer. Instead, he chose the infantry and was shipped off to Iraq, then Afghanistan. He served with distinction in both places. Now he’s back home and running for Congress. Arkansas could do worse, much worse. And has from time to bad time.

This candidate for Congress sounds very much like an officer and a gentleman. They are in short supply. Especially in Congress. Which is where he needs to be.

This year’s political races looked pretty much like an ordinary primary season in Arkansas, if on the dull side even for an ordinary year, what with no election for governor or U.S. Senate. And then along comes a candidate like Tom Cotton, and gives voters in the Fourth District a chance to be present at the creation of what could be a career of outstanding political service to the state, even nation.

Whatever one’s opinion of the politics and personality, the vices and virtues, of Arkansas legends like J. William Fulbright and Bill Clinton and Winthrop Rockefeller, each played a pivotal role in this state’s history. Tom Cotton could be the next such figure. If voters in the Fourth District give him a start.

Fred Allen in the Democratic primary for District 31 in the state Senate.

We got a frantic phone call last week from a young lady who had just heard a radio advertisement for Mr. Allen’s opponent in this race: the all-too-familiar Joyce Elliot. The ad called Mr. Allen all kinds of things, none of them complimentary. Our caller seemed honestly taken aback at how Ms. Elliot could get away airing such smears.

Ah, young people. It’s a new world to them. What’s not new-at least to some of us-is how Joyce Elliot campaigns. Dirty. Anybody has the right to be wrong in a free country, but Ms. Elliot consistently abuses the privilege. Just look at how she ran for U.S. Congress against Tim Griffin in 2010. She was so intent on running down her opponent, she even stooped to repeating some low claims from one of those Washington, D.C., outfits that specializes in campaign smears. When called on it, she said she was just repeating the allegations and-get this-it was up to Tim Griffin to prove they weren’t true.Hey, she was just throwing the mud-it was up to her opponent to clean it up, not her. Quite a lady, Ms. Elliott. And now Fred Allen knows how the Elliott treatment feels.

In her latest misadventure in the politics of self-patronage, Ms. Elliott tried to sew up an $80,000-a-year slot for herself on the public payroll, and probably would have succeeded if not for one small detail: the law. Before she was through, the lady had thoroughly embarrassed not only herself but had involved state and local government and the local branch of a state university in her ill-considered, and luckily ill-fated, grab.

Fred Allen, unlike his opponent, is running on his record. On his ability to work with both parties in the Legislature to improve Arkansas. He has a solid record in the state House of Representatives, having worked on health care as the chairman of the Commerce Committee. He’s been a builder, an entrepreneur, a lawmaker, and-oh, yes-a cancer survivor. Which will test the stamina and endurance of anybody.And maybe even make them wiser and more attuned to the human condition.

By now Fred Allen has sponsored legislation on everything from seat belts to school testing. Maybe that’s why he’s running a clean campaign. He has too many of his own accomplishments to spend time running down another candidate.

This election time, let’s give Fred Allen another job, and move him up from the Arkansas House to the Arkansas Senate. Where he can continue to do a good job for his constituents, the state, and in general by raising the level of Arkansas politics. Which could use it.

Editorial, Pages 76 on 05/20/2012

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