Arkansas Republicans

Tenn. Strategist Meets with Ark. GOP Leaders

A footnote to our earlier report on the election of the new Republican Party of Arkansas chairman: Word is that a select group of GOP activists, leaders and party regulars made their way to Little Rock’s tony Heights neighborhood after the state party meeting on Saturday, Dec. 13, for a special meeting with one Layne Provine, a Tennessee-based political strategist and direct mail guru. (Here’s his consulting firm’s website.)

Strategist Layne Provine
Tennessee GOP strategist Layne Provine

Hosted at the home of investment banker Rick Calhoun, Provine gave a short presentation on what Republicans in Tennessee did to capture both houses of the state legislature this year for the first time since 1869—a feat engineered by Provine himself. Lots of focus on candidate recruitment, polling, direct mail strategies, fundraising, voter ID and more.

About 25 people reportedly attended, including freshly minted GOP chair Doyle Webb, Asa Hutchinson, Sen. Gilbert Baker, Kelly Eichler, Jim Burnett, Rita Hamilton, Carlton Saffa and a variety of GOP lawmakers and soon-to-be lawmakers, including Bryan King, Dan Greenberg, Davy Carter, Jonathan Dismang, Jane English and others. A real who’s who of Arkansas Republicans.

Reports from a couple of attendees note that the discussion was “substantive and upbeat,” though one attendee questioned how “transferable” the lessons of Tennessee would be to Arkansas, given the pressures of term limits and the very different legislative environment.

If I can shake out more specific info, I’ll update—but at the very least it indicates that some Arkansas Republicans may be thinking more strategically about running campaigns and winning elections. Hey, at least they’re talking to someone who’s WON something. That’s a start.

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15 thoughts on “Tenn. Strategist Meets with Ark. GOP Leaders

  • Hillary

    Key words: “select group”. Same problem as always with Arkansas Republicans. Rather than there be a grassroots effort, it is always a “select group” working behind the scenes to consolidate the power of their little faction or alliance of a couple of factions. No thanks. I’d feel safer getting screwed over by Democrats.

  • hillary is a man

    I think you probably would have been happier with the dems anyway, Hillary.

    ps- Think of a Mehlburger/Hockersmith party… no exclusivity there, huh?

  • Fourche River Rex

    Hillary, I tend to agree. But there has to be some leadership to take the helm because we all can’t go meet this fellow at a private residence.
    But I see some names in this group that were pushing for Milligan as chair just a little over a year ago. That bothers me.

    Has Karen Ray turned in her resignation? If not, I guess this serves as notice to her. I sure hope she didn’t learn about it through a blog first. Ouch, that would hurt.

    Here’s how this may be good, though. If Chip Saltsman wins his race for RNC chair (when is that, BTW), you know he’s gotta know this fellow. If so, I bet we can get the hook up from Saltsman. Saltsman will have two connections with Arkansas. Maybe the RNC will help swing Arkansas and pour resources into the state.

  • hmmm

    Sounds pretty fancy.

  • BigRed

    If this is a group to get more republicans elected iam giving up.
    Rick Calhoun-Loser and quiter
    Gilbert- RINO
    Asa-horrible personaltiy
    Rita Hamilton-recruits RINOS like Hardwick and Summers adn Bisbee’s

    Thank goodness King and Greenberg were there.

  • David Kinkade

    Just to clarify: My understanding is that the event was not an official party function, or a party-organized meeting, but a private gathering at Calhoun’s home.

  • eLwood

    Since when is Dan Greenberg a “soon to be” leggie?

    If memory serves me correctly this will be his second
    year to serve.

    Edifice Complex anyone?


  • David Kinkade

    That may have been a hastily constructed sentence — what I meant was that those names were all either “lawmakers or soon-to-be lawmakers.” But I can see where the structure might have been mildly confusing….

  • Br549

    Was the last Republican U.S. Senate candidate there?

    What Republicans were there representing NWA?

    Seems a bit interesting to have a gathering of leaders and insiders with no one representing the partys geographical base.

    (Carrol County doesnt exactly count.)

    Who was there on behalf of the triumvirate of NWA?

  • David Kinkade

    Rita Hamilton’s from NWA, and I believe there may have been a few others from that neck of the woods, but I don’t have a full guest list. (I wasn’t invited, because I’m not a “Who’s Who.” I’m more of a “Who?”)

    It does sounds as if it was more Central Arkansas-heavy, but again, it was a private gathering, not a party function.

    If someone in the know wanted to add to the names on the list in a subsequent comment, well, go right ahead….

  • AKA Bryce

    “But I see some names in this group that were pushing for Milligan as chair just a little over a year ago. That bothers me.”

    -We couldn’t beg anyone to run for that position so support for him was by default.

    “I sure hope she didn’t learn about it through a blog first. Ouch, that would hurt.”

    -That is how I found out, from this blog, and yes… does hurt….a little. By the way parking is terrible at Rick’s house. I am not sure how that many people went anyway.

  • Br549

    Thanks D.

    I really hope Jim Holt was there. He’s funny. I miss him.

  • LastChance

    Have you seen this guy’s website??? Enough said…

  • David Kinkade

    Yeah, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say this isn’t the person they need to be looking toward for online strategies….

  • First, thank you David for this headsup!

    On the positive side: I hope this consultant will wake up this “non-grassroots” group on how to help but not control the building of a true conservative GOP base.

    On the concern side: I would reiterate the issues/ concerns which I set forth in “Arkansas GOP Chair Down to Two Candidates – Issues?”

    A few points from the post:
    “Of critical importance: will the RPA awake or will it continue business as usual with the party circling the wagons and taking almost no conservative public stands on issues? Will the RPA slumber until the next election cycle only to awake to ceremoniously endorse those who have won their primary races? In the last regular legislative session, the RPA leadership did not take active stands on critical issues. Fortunately, action was taken by faithful committed Republicans who worked on their own and issued documented position papers to members of the legislature and who worked with other nonpolitical agencies to stop liberal legislation.

    “Another major concern is growth! The RPA does not need to sacrifice one of the wings of the conservatism to grow the party. What we need is a chair who can clearly and repeatedly articulate the conservative Republican position while standing on issues in the middle of liberal Little Rock. It definitely should not matter if the person knows and is friends with democrats. This is not a friendship position but a leadership position representing republicans and the republican message.

    The RPA chair and executive staff have not been active in working with the conservative new media (bloggers and others) in Arkansas. The RPA has not worked to team up with new media conservative activists who are active in Web 2.0 social networking via FaceBook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Ning groups, Google groups and more. The result is an expanding conservative network outside of the RPA. This same situation is being debated as a central issue in the selection concern of the next Republican National Committee Chair.

    “Because of a lack of leadership and motivation by the RPA chair and executive offices, a majority of county chairmen either do not have an effective understanding of how to use email to communicate to advance Republican activism. Few chairs have an understanding of the power of the Internet and social networking to reach into the heartland and homes within their counties and districts. The result is the RPA continues in a passive mode in majority of Arkansas often with a defeatist mentality. Except for a couple staff members, the RPA does not communicate via new media and the Internet. Very few counties have active Republican websites. . . .

    “Most active party members want to see a revitalized party but again, leadership does not occur in a vacuum. We need a new chair that can competently communicate Republican principles, take clear and concise competent stands on issues, and can work with the new media talent in Arkansas to advance the Arkansas Republican Party. If this does not occur, the RPA is doomed to continue as the minority party in Arkansas.”

    I hope this meeting signals a beginning or an attempt to gather info and not another inept attempt to spend lots of funds, ignore the grassroots and the new media, and fail to build to build a “solid” base. Also, while we need to work on occasion with RINOs, we do not need to continue to support RINOs that rip the Republican big tent to dash out and climb in bed with Democrats and sacrifice the GOP in Arkansas to support their personal ambitions. This only results in conservative staying outside of the GOP.


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