I attended my second of four gubernatorial breakfast meetings sponsored by the Political Animal Club chaired by my buddy Rex Nelson. This one featured Republican candidate Curtis Coleman of Conway. Attendance was not as heavy for this one as it was for Asa Hutchinson.
I was wrong last week when I said Asa was the first announced candidate for governor of Arkansas. It was Coleman, who announced back in February. But he certainly has been quiet, until now.
Now that the race is starting to heat up, maybe we’ll hear more from him. He says he makes five to six appearances a day and that he has to change the oil in his car every month due to heavy usage.
The one thing almost all candidates have in common is their ability to say something that sounds substantive without a lot of substance to it.
Mr. Coleman took a shot at Mr. Hutchinson, saying the tax reforms that Asa proposes are not as good as the ones Coleman will propose. Notice I said, "will," because Mr. Coleman did not have specifics of how his plan will work either.
Mr. Hutchinson said he would do away with the state income tax and that will help Arkansas become more competitive with other states. "That’s not enough!" said the affable Mr. Coleman. He wants to overhaul the state tax code, including the corporate income tax and eliminating the tax on capital gains. But he’s not sure how that will happen and what impact it will have on the state.
But just as Asa responded when asked about his tax plan, Curtis didn’t have the specifics of how it would all work. He said "Team Coleman" is busy working out all of the details. I envision a big war room in Conway with the team banging out a comprehensive reform of Arkansas’ tax code.
He told reporters after his talk that it’s all about creating a pro-jobs economy. Wow. I’ve never heard that before.
So, one thing the candidates seem to always do is make a big statement without a plan on how they are going to pull it off. We call it "big hat, no cattle." But it’s how they all operate.
Just once, I would love to hear a candidate outline the top 10 things (or even five), that they promise they will get done during their term in office, why they’re important and how they’re going to do it. Oh, well.
Coleman said two other things that kind of bothered me: 1) we are the second most-regulated state in the country for business and that’s it hard to get a business going here, and 2) with the right leadership we can be one of the most prosperous states in the nation, or something to that effect.
I say poppycock to both statements. I want us to be prosperous, too, but going from somewhere around 40th to "most prosperous" is ridiculous. But Mr. Coleman has been known to say ridiculous things in the past. During his ill-fated Senate campaign, the former Baptist minister compared embryonic stem cell research to "what the Nazis did to the Jews." Regardless of how you feel about stem cell research, you have to admit that was a fairly reckless statement.
But back to his current statements. Again, Coleman has nothing to back up either statement. That’s called demagoguery. Of course all politicians are guilty of it and it’s become the expected method of adding spice to a political speech.
This is Coleman’s second run for a big office. He lost against John Boozman in 2010 for U.S. Senate. I predict this will be his second big loss. He’ll finish a distant second to Asa with Debra Hobbs a distant third.
But next, we hear from Mike Ross, the financial frontrunner in the race. I’ll be listening closely.
See you on the Boulevard.
Neal Moore owns a creative consulting firm, Neal Moore Creative. He has lived in Maumelle over 10 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook or on Twitter, @kneelmore.