Earlier this year the Independence and Izard County Republican committees voted to “not recommend” Republican incumbent Senator James Sturch for re-election based on his voting record. The chair of the Republican Party of Arkansas, Jonelle Fulmer, informed county committees their action amounts to prohibited favoritism. The state party is interpreting the section allowing committees to designate a candidate as “not recommended” narrowly by saying:
“our rules do allow for Committees to designate candidates as “not recommended,” but only “specifically to address egregious actions (for example someone who is a member of or espousing the principles of the KKK or Antifa or someone who has been convicted of a felony after they filed for office).”
As written, the rule itself does not have any such limitations. The copy of the email we were provided did not include anything to back up the interpretation. Is there something we haven’t seen?
Even if the standard were to be shown to be limited to “egregious actions” would the state party ever consider an officeholder’s voting record to be “egregious”?
Knowing whether there is anything to back up the interpretation will be important to committees because the state chair warned the consequence of violating the interpretation is removal from the committee.
Some see a double standard on what is allowed and disallowed favoritism. For example, the state party’s Rules Committee includes a member who works as a campaign consultant, which means he will be working for some candidates and against other candidates, even within the Republican primary. And there is an allegation that state officials knowingly allow a local chair to also engage in the business of campaign consulting by creating a corporation in a relative’s name to front the official’s activity.
Regardless of these and other claims, the newly announced interpretation of the rules is unclear and confusing. Under the current interpretation will county committees be in danger of sanction if the committees dare speak up on any state issue and risk offending some Republican? Must the committees go back to only being cheerleaders and free labor for candidates, even RINOS.