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Political Note #281   Joyce Elliott  AR CD 02

2020               General Election

(This note is business as usual.  While the country deals with COVID-19, we also need to prepare for the election in November. This Note is intended to help achieve a Democratic victory.)

Joyce Elliott graduated from Southern Arkansas University in 1973.  Southern State College, as it was then known, was integrated in 1964, in the fall after the Civil Rights Act passed.  The Trustees and President began integration quietly.  A few off campus black students enrolled in the fall of 1964, a few moved into the dorms in the fall of 1966.  Controversies grew in 1968 and 1969 leading to one  student advisor forced to resign, the other fired and the suspension and then disbanding of the black student organization.  Joyce Elliott did not come to a quiet campus.

Joyce Elliott got her master’s degree at Ouachita Baptist University in 1981 at the age of thirty, three years after Mike Huckabee earned his undergraduate degree there.  She was a teacher for thirty years.  But not a quiet one.  John Brummett of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette calls her Arkansas’ liberal lioness.

Joyce Elliott has been a political figure for at least two decades, serving in the Arkansas House of representatives from 2001 to 2007 and in the State Senate from 2009 to the present.  During her tenure in the State Senate she has been the majority whip and the majority leader.  Democrats, however, are no longer in the majority.  While serving in the legislature, she has been the Director of Government Relations for the College Boards Southwest Region and served on numerous boards.

John Brummett said about Joyce Elliott’s  candidacy —  if you are going to lose, you may as well lose fiery.  Here is Joyce Elliott being fiery addressing the Incumbent, French Hill in tweets.

“It is one thing to be lucky enough to have been born into a family in which your every need was taken care of….The luck of birth….spared you from understanding what it’s like to go to work every day, work long hours, sacrifice time with family, have only a vague idea of leisure tie even feels like and still barely get by or not at all.

…that’s no reason to remain willfully ignorant of the daily lives of your constituents.  We support you and others who benefit from the 1 trillion [dollar] tax break you voted for…..To cite Thomas Jefferson as your “role model,” a man who owned humans and compelled them to furnish free labor to propagate his wealth is a fitting choice [for you].

You are a Chamber of Commerce guy. .. a collection of folks organized for their members’ benefit?  That’s not a bad thing, except you wish to deny organizing for working people by throwing up barriers to their ability to do so.  You tout the pretty sounding name “right to work”…..[which] is nothing more than code for “right to work for less.” “

She went on to describe the value of unions, to condemn his support for banking interests and to compare that with her lifelong support for working people.

Can this rhetoric make a difference?  John Brummett thinks it will.  He thinks she will lose by twenty points when the 2018 candidate lost by 6.

It is actually a surprise that French Hill is around.  He seemed to reach his political peak as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Corporate Finance under GHW Bush.  After more than a decade of retreating to  local civic leadership, he was elected to Congress in 2014.  He had little opposition in 2016 while Hillary Clinton was losing to Donald Trump by ten points in the district.  His 2018 victory by 6 points was over a Democratic establishment figure, State Rep Clarke Tucker.  Are Democrats gaining in AR 02?

Was the 6 point 2018 loss a high point for a Democratic congressional candidate or a step toward success?  Joyce Elliott has a base to draw from.  African Americans are 20% of the Second Congressional District.  Whites are 75%.  An African American progressive can win in a southern district that is not majority African American.  Lucy McBath did that outside of Atlanta.  We know a white moderate can win in a southern district that has an African American base.  Joe Cunningham did that in SC 01 – a coastal district stretching from Charleston past Hilton Head.  Unlike Joyce Elliott, Cunningham was not confrontational and not that progressive.  SC 01 has similar 75-20 racial demographics to AR 02.  Income is different, though.  The median income in SC 01 is a little over $66,000.  In AR 02 it is a little over $41,000.  Can Joyce Elliott, a confrontational, progressive black woman, achieve a victory that resembles Joe Cunningham’s?  In a much poorer district?

Does Joyce Elliott have a suburban base to draw from.  In 2010, she tried. She traveled the country side to introduce herself and to try to gain some votes.  It didn’t happen.  2020 is not 2010.  Southern suburbs echoed northern suburbs in 2018 and voted for Democrats. That shift may be even greater in 2020?

It is possible that Little Rock, its suburbs, and the outlying countryside can be persuaded to vote for a Democratic candidate for Congress.  To get there, though, Joyce Elliott will need more money than she’s got.  At the start of the year, French Hill had over $1 million; Joyce Elliott had almost $200,000.  She’s going to need some robust help if she is going to get there.  Provide some of that help.’’

Below are Congressional seats Democrats are trying to flip from incumbent Republicans.  The ones with asterisks ran in 2018*  In 2018, Democrats flipped 40 Republican seats in the House.  Let’s flip 20 more. 


Arizona 06                        Hiral Tipirneni* to beat incumbent David Schweikert

Arkansas 02.                    Joyce Elliott to beat incumbent French Hill

California 50                    Ammar Campa-Hajjar* to win this now open Rep seat

Florida 16                         Margaret Good to beat incumbent Vern Buchanan

Illinois 13                          Betsy D Londrigen* to beat incumbent Rodney Davis

Indiana 05                        Christina Hale to win this open Republican seat

Iowa 04                            JD Scholten* to beat incumbent Steve King

Kansas 02                        Michelle De La Isla to beat incumbent Steve Watkins

Michigan 06                    Jon Hoadley to beat incumbent Fred Upton

Minnesota 01                  Dan Feehan* to beat incumbent Jim Hagedorn

Missouri 02                     Jill Schupp to beat incumbent Ann Wagner

New York 02                   Jackie Gordon to win this open Republican seat

New York 21                    Tedra Cobb* to beat incumbent Elise Stefanic

Ohio 04                            Mike Larsen to beat incumbent Jim Jordan

Pennsylvania 10             Eugene DePasquale to beat incumbent Scott Perry

Texas 02                           Sima Ladjervardian to beat incumbent Dan Crenshaw

Texas 21                            Wendy Davis to beat incumbent Chip Roy

Texas 22                           Sri Preston Kalkuri to win this open Republican seat

Texas 23                           Gina Ortiz Jones* to win this open Republican seat

Washington 03                Carolyn Long* to beat incumbent Jaime Herrera Beutler