Jackson vs. Fulmer for RPA Chairman

On Saturday, December 5th, the Republican Party of Arkansas (RPA) will meet in Benton, Arkansas at its Winter Meeting to elect its new Chairman.

Credit: DonkeyHotey/Flickr

A relatively newcomer to Republican state-wide politics, Iverson Jackson, is challenging the long-time Republican National Committeewoman, Jonelle Talley Fulmer, for that position.  Both are visiting Republican County Committees around the state prior to that vote.  During a recent county committee meeting, the following was observed as each offered their “vote for me” speech.

Iverson Jackson is a (Ret.) Lieutenant Colonel and current pastor of Zoe Bible Church in Little Rock. He also serves as the Chairman of the African American Coalition of the RPA.  He shared his plan, if elected, to expand the Republican Party outreach to those who normally vote Democrat through use of the following:  approach those who already hold Republican values (pointing out that most African Americans fit that description); reclaim Republican history by sharing it one-on-one; provide written best practices training to our county committees; and lastly, to use the Republican Platform, in a booklet form, enhanced with other historic information as a recruitment tool.   He also observed that fundraising should be increased through expanding the number of voters and small dollar donors.  When asked, “If you are elected and a Republican officeholder goes against the Republican platform, what would be your response?”, Mr. Jackson responded with, “The platform is the basis for the party as the Bible is the platform for the Christian, and he will not deviate from either.” His message is simple: he values transparency, will focus on adding new voters to the party’s base on a grassroots level, and will not deviate from the party platform since they are consistent with his personal beliefs. Mr. Jackson promises to bring new energy to the RPA along with the change that many Arkansans have sought since 2012.

Jonelle Talley Fulmer is completing her eighth year as Arkansas’ National Committeewoman and has built a lifetime of relationships in the Republican Party at all levels.  She shared with the group that her political interests were sparked by her Sunday school teacher, Asa Hutchinson.  She recalled telling Hutchinson in 1991, “Let me know if you ever decide to run again. I’d love to volunteer for you.” As she says, “The rest is history.” Fulmer stands on a platform of personal endorsements and “years of service to Republican candidates.” She mentioned that after the 2020 election, Arkansas holds the position of the “reddest” state in the union.  If elected, she promises to strengthen the party through grassroots training at the county levels with new resources to “build a farm-team.”  She observed that the GOP needs to seek new groups and continues to have a problem with lack of unity.  No specific plan was offered to address her last two points of concern.  When posed the question, “With 75% of the state legislators already red, what is it going to take or what percentage will it take to see red policies passed at the state level?” Mrs. Fulmer’s answer lacked a targeted response which suggested to some that status quo may be her default.

In this race there are two nice, but different, candidates from which the electorate must decide:  Mr. Jackson offers a change in philosophy with a shift toward the grassroots or bottom up approach to growing the Republican Party of Arkansas.  The very experienced and pleasant Mrs. Fulmer seems to hold a preference toward maintaining the status quo with the current regime, offering few plans of alteration to the current political landscape.

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