Report from the Arkansas Tea Party: Cox Announces for Senate (Updated!)

It is I, your valiant Arkansas Projecteer, returned from the Arkansas Tea Party down at the Riverfront Amphitheater in Little Rock. It was OK, I guess, but I’m grading this one down because, Christ, it was just so ridiculously hot. And your Arkansas Projecteer, he does not like the heat. But it was a solid three hours of rousing “take back the government” rhetoric, heavy on the fiscal responsibility and accountability talk.

The big news out of this one was that Tom Cox, a North Little Rock businessman and one of the movement organizers in Arkansas, announced he will be running for Senate as a Republican to challenge Sen. Blanche Lincoln. The Tolbert Report has a video clip, but it’s only 30 seconds long and it’s so far from the stage that I’m assuming Tolbert shot it from his back porch in Saline County, so be forewarned. (Here’s a CNN report on Cox’s announcement.)

(This AP story notes that Cox’s North Little Rock business, Aloha Pontoons, was raided a year ago by federal agents for employing illegal immigrant workers. Based on the details here, it looks as if the workers had provided false documentation to secure jobs, and it sounds as if Cox had met his responsibilities in checking said documentation. Was this in the news? Why do I have absolutely no memory of this whatsoever?)

Also in the crowd were potential Senate challenger Curtis Coleman, with whom I had a friendly chat, and Conway’s David Meeks, who’s eyeing a run against Rep. Vic Snyder in the Second District.

Among the speakers were local radio man Dave Elswick and Arkansas Project contributor Rep. Dan Greenberg. (High-octane Twitterer paxlibertas offers video of Greenberg’s remarks, in which Greenberg notes his intent to run for Senate in District 22.)

This one was a little smaller than the April 15 event at the Capitol, but that was to be expected as the earlier event was part of a larger nationwide push. Tonight’s show got off to a slow start—at kick-off time (5:30 p.m.) there were probably only a couple hundred people there. But the crowd grew steadily, and I’d guesstimate about 1,000 people altogether (maybe—tough to get an authoritative count because people were coming and going throughout the three hour event).

I’ll be writing some more on this a little later in the week with more detail and color, and adding in some additional thoughts on the future of the Tea Party movement, so be on the lookout for that. Out for now.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, I’m hearing stirrings from various quarters that a not-insignificant number of Tea Party enthusiasts are not at all happy with Cox’s announcement at last night’s event, viewing it as a “bait and switch.” That’s the position of Nick Cochran at the Nick Gripes blog, where the blogger writes

When I realized this, I left my seat and found a phone number of a friend and located him on the grounds. I went to him and told him, “we’ve been duped.” This is not what we signed up for. The good news is, we still have a coalition of Tea Party Organizations in this state that are not affiliated with this mess who will continue to be active, and hopefully be “above politics as usual.”

More on this from Mark Moore at the Arkansas Watch blog, who questions the need for a centralized state leader for the movement.

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13 thoughts on “Report from the Arkansas Tea Party: Cox Announces for Senate (Updated!)

  • June 15, 2009 at 10:38 pm


    But on another note, I had the privilege to hear Dan again. Why isn’t he running for US senate? He can win.

  • June 15, 2009 at 11:39 pm

    Believe or not, I shot that from the front row. Not my best work but not bad for using a cheap camera while take care of a five year old. I have about an eight minute edited video of Cox that is uploading as well as video of Greenberg’s sort of announcement.

  • June 16, 2009 at 11:24 am


    Thanks for the update and links. I had to leave before Mr. Cox spoke because my daughters, DumbArkette and DumbArkina, found out I’d been lying to them about it being Riverfest.

    I hear you asking yourself, “What gave it away?” It was the damn face painting booth. Turns out it was just rub-on tattoos. Boy were they pissed!

    On a related note, I think I saw you across the amphitheater, but my shins hurt too much to walk over there and say hi.

  • June 16, 2009 at 11:43 am

    Thanks, Pax. I added your link to the text above.

  • Pingback: Blake’s Think Tank » Blog Archive » More Arkansas Political Candidates in 2010

  • June 16, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Mark Moore is complaining about Tom Cox going on Patriot Pastor’s radio and proclaiming himself a Christian, yet Mark Moore was campaign manager for Jim Holt.

    Morality is not a problem. It is legislated morality which is a problem. To date, I haven’t heard Tom Cox say anything about legislated morality. Unlike Mark Moore and others in the Tea Party movement, I have actually kept in touch with Tom Cox since the April 15 rally. I’ve been kind to Tom and Tom has been nothing but kind in return.

    Have any critics of the man, Tom Cox, actually confronted him and asked him any questions or would we rather just hoot and holler over uncertainties? It hasn’t even been 72 hours since Tom announced for crying out loud.

    Tom will be speaking at the Conservative Forum Luncheon in Conway on Friday. How about asking him his stance on legislated morality or whatever the issue before accusing him of an uncertainty? I’ll be there to ask questions and I shall withhold any criticisms of the man until his actions/remarks warrant them.

    In Liberty,
    Rob Richard

  • June 17, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Rob you don’t like my being critical of Tom but aren’t you doing the same thing by complaining about me over here instead of at Arkansas Watch or on Facebook? You know where to find me.

    As to the morality issue, setting aside for the moment that all laws are legislated morality- that is a primary function of law, you misunderstand my beef. While Tom Cox told CNN that he is “center of the road” on social issues he was on with a pastor telling him he was a “Reagan Republican” and definitely intimating that his religious values would effect his politics. So which is it? That was my beef.

    And have any of his critics talked to him? Yes, Bob Porto (one of the panelists on our Arkansas Tea Party Radio blogtalkradio show) was the co-founder of Tom’s organization. He resigned once he saw where Tom was taking it. But you forgot to ask me if Tom ever talked to the rest of us before proclaiming himself the “Leader” of “the official site of the Arkansas Tea Party”.

    I am sure he has been very pleasant to you. Every politician and lobbyist will be nice to you if that will get you to ignore issues. Look at Ron Paul. That is the way to do it. He is pleasant to some, but does not let their pleasantness to him affect his judgment. It is not about “who has been nice to me”. It is about who has integrity and conducts themselves with honor. It is about who is correct on the issues, and will stand by that even if it costs them. OTOH, Ron Paul names names and kicks butt when needed too. I think we should all learn from the way he handles it.

  • June 17, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I’ll start out by saying I hope you know where I stand on social issues before you comment on any “intimations” I make, Mark.

    In your response, you dodged the crux of my point, Mark. Tom hasn’t been subject to question and answer yet. He will be, but he hasn’t yet. I say it again, I’ll reserve my criticism of Tom for when his actions/remarks warrant it.

    Also,your characterization of Patriot Pastor’s radio as a place where good Christians go to “intimate that their religious values would effect their politics” is just false. I listen to that show and it’s not church in any way; it just happens to be hosted by a pastor who, mind you, is extremely libertarian in his social beliefs and keeps his personal religious beliefs out of his politics.

    You and I agree that who we support politically should be about who is correct on the issues and we should stand by that even if it costs us. I just see no warrant for criticism of Tom at this point. This isn’t my ringing endorsement of the man. This is me saying that we’re still two days away from his first question and answer and people are already characterizing him.

    The verdict is still really out on him and for all we know at this point, Tom Cox may be the best dog, socially and fiscally, in this race.

  • June 17, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Rob, I agree with you. The jury is still out. I also agree with Mark. Look, my criticism was probably a bit more harsh than even I would have liked, so I followed it up. But my concern was and is that the Tea Party was exploited for the event this past monday, and though it may have an innocent error, the people there were taken advantage of.

    Though the sentiment was missed, I do not hold that Tom is fundamentally a bad guy, I just believe that the actions last monday were politics as usual.

  • June 19, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    I feel Mr. Cox is what the State of Arkansas needs in Washington. He has what it takes to discuss “Common Sense” to everyone. We need to all pull together and really stand up and walk the streets to stop the insanity with the laws that are being pushed, shoved and rammed through Congress, the Senate and on to get a signature….?? What is the hurry?? Do not let them get us off the real fix of the real problem. We have to Vote All Incumbents OUT!!! Balance the powers in Washington, State and Local levels. I say start with the dogcatcher and work our way up the food chain of elected officials.

  • April 9, 2010 at 5:17 pm

    God never made a fish with fins until He made an ocean for it to swim in God never made a bird until He made a sky for it to fly in & God never put the longings of immortality in a soul until He made a Heaven to satisfy these longings.


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