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Arkansas PoliticsRead

Grab Power or Share Power – Republican State Committee Meeting

The State Committee of the Republican Party of Arkansas meets Saturday, December 2nd. The hot topic will be consideration of rules changes. The rules changes appear to pit the interests of the central party apparatus against the interests of the grassroots party members.


The first item is a proposal by the Party Chair, Joseph K. Wood. The rule change would add another position on the party’s Executive Committee. It would add the Republican Party Designee to the State Board of Election Commissioners to the Executive Committee. The reason stated for the rule change is to add “another voice” to the Executive Committee. The explanation goes on to identify the existing designee and the previous designee, both of whom are exceptional individuals. But the identity of the existing designee and past designee are irrelevant. You must look to the future.

While the stated goal is to add another voice, the future consequence will be quite different. It will give the Party Chair an even louder voice on the Executive Committee.

The notice of the proposed rule fails to mention the designee to the State Board of Election Commissioners is appointed by the Party Chair.  That fact is not even mentioned in the party rules. To find out that the designee is selected by the Party Chair you must look at state law, A.C.A. § 4-7-101.

If the real goal was to add “another voice,” the rule would have added someone who is not beholden to the Party Chair.

The Party Chair already appoints several officers who, by their position, are also members of the Executive Committee, including Finance Chairman, Rules Chairman, and General Counsel. The Party Chair also appoints the Deputy Secretary who votes in the absence of the Secretary and the Deputy Treasurer who votes in absence of the Treasurer.)[i] One might ask, why does the Executive Committee need to be stacked with yet another appointee of the Party Chair?


A second proposal by the Party Chair would allow some pre-primary information to be posted on social media pages as an alternative to newspaper publication. It is our understanding that this rule change may be pulled from consideration.


This proposed rule change is not from the Party Chair.

Currently the entire Rules Committee is appointed by the Party Chair.  The proposal would change the selection of the Rules Committee by having all members elected by Congressional District Committees. Each of the four committees would elect three members to the Rules Committee. The Rules Committee members would select one of their members to serve as Chair of the Rules Committee.

The point of the change is that the work of the Rules Committee is too important to be controlled by one person.


Proposed Rule #1 would put even more power in the hands of the Party Chair by giving the Party Chair one more appointment on the Executive Committee. Proposed Rule #3 would take the Party Chair’s control over the Rules Committee through appointments and redistribute the power to select members to the four Congressional District Committees.


We have previously noted that the Republican Party of Arkansas sometimes has two very different voices. When the party comes together as the “State Convention,” delegates are selected by the local committees. This gives the State Convention more of a grassroots focus.  The grassroots do not have many appointments to the “State Committee,” and the State Committee has more of a central party apparatus focus.

If the same rule changes were being presented to the State Convention, the result could be more favorable to the grassroots over the central party apparatus.

To read more on why the State Convention and the State Committee sometimes have differing views, see our article, Republican State Convention “Yes.” State Committee “No”.


[i] In one place in the rules the officers are referred to as the Deputy Secretary and Deputy Treasurer and in another place they are referred to as the Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer.

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