The race for the 2nd Congressional District in central Arkansas between Republican Tim Griffin and Democratic State Sen. Joyce Elliott has not played out as originally scripted. Most expected the fight for the open seat to be one of the dirtiest in the country with plenty of attack ads on both sides.
For starters, it is a Democratic seat that the majority party can ill afford to lose as they try to hang on to the House. Except for a brief period in the early 80's during the Reagan era, the seat has been a safe one for the Democrats. But shifting demographics with a growing suburban population along with a disdain for the current occupant of the White House has made this seat a major target for a Republican pickup.
In addition, Tim Griffin has a history that is ripe for a barrage of negative attack ads.
However, the attack ads have not materialized and it appears they may not. After reserving around a million dollars in ads in the Little Rock market, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reversed course yesterday and canceled the first half of the ad buy -- hours before the deadline for doing so expired -- and there is a strong possibility that they may cancel the second half as well.
The change in course could be due to the fact the recent polls have shown Elliott trailing by around 17 points. In addition, Griffin has monetarily outmatched Elliott, raising over $1.5 million and still sitting on $600,000 to spend in the final four weeks of the campaign. It appears to most observers that the DCCC has decided to deploy their resource to more competitive district.
However, DCCC Chairman Chris Hollen cautions against reading too much into the move. "The DCCC has invested heavily in this race and remains fully committed to Joyce Elliott's campaign," Hollen told Roby Brock, an Arkansas business blogger yesterday. "She's been running an excellent effort and the DCCC is working aggressively with her campaign."
Alice Stewart, of the Republican Party in Arkansas maintained that in spite of the DCCC's move, they are still anticipating Elliott receiving some assistance from out of state groups, specifically from labor unions.
"Make no mistake, Joyce Elliott will have all the resources she needs because the out-of-state big labor bosses will make sure of that."
Even so, political observers inside the district are still waiting for the negative attack ads to hit the airwaves. And with only 26 days left until the election, many are wondering if they will ever materialize.