National GOP Tells Arkansas Senator To Turn Up Campaign, Still Thought Safe

Nov 5, 2015

U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-Ark.)

National Republican leaders are putting some pressure on Arkansas U.S. Senator John Boozman to ramp-up his election effort despite running in a favorable environment. National media outlets reported Thursday on closed-door conversations between Senate Republicans and Boozman over what some say is lackluster fundraising for an incumbent in a red state.

However, political scientist Greg Shufeldt at UALR thinks Boozman is still in a comfortable position.

“If he doesn’t do anything a generic Republican beats a generic Democrat 99 out of 100 times, if not 100 times out of 100 times going forward in Arkansas. There’s no evidence the campaign is plagued with scandal, controversy, that there’s anything lurking other than he hasn’t raised the amount of funds assumed,” said Shufeldt of Boozman’s electoral prospects.

The senator raised $359,000 in the last fundraising period. Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge, a former US Attorney, raise about $44,000 more than that in his first campaign report.

Shufeldt speculates Republican leaders are well-aware that Arkansas has become very friendly to GOP candidates despite pushing for a better fundraising performance.

“If anything this is a public shaming from the party that is meant to light a fire under the senator but also send a signal to donors and constituency groups that while this is a seat that most consider to be safe, it will still take some effort to keep. It was a seat that was Democratic just six years ago.”

The 2015 Arkansas Poll from the University of Arkansas released this week shows Boozman with low-name recognition compared to other recent, and current, incumbents. His approval ratings among residents and likely voters are below 50 percent but Arkansas Poll architect Janine Parry has said Boozman is still in a relatively good position. The poll did not ask about Eldridge who filed this week to run for office for the first time.