Monday, April 04, 2011

Democrats give us the Fayetteville Finger

There's an interesting debate that is shaping up here in Arkansas.

A little background, first. Arkansas is an overwhelmingly Democratic state. The governor is a Democrat, and -with the exception of Mike Huckabee- has been for a very long time. (Interestingly, the lieutenant governor is a Republican.) Both the House and the Senate are overwhelmingly Democratic. Both state Senators are Democratics. It is only the three of the four Representatives who are Republican, with the sole Democrat being from the Fourth District.

This is a new development for the state of Arkansas. In the past, only the 3rd District has sent a Republican to the national House. But this past election, the 1st and 2nd Districts chose to send Republicans. This has caused quite a bit of panic among the state Democrats.

Because, you see, the census data has come in, and the congressional districts need to be redrawn. As I mentioned before, the 3rd District is heavily Republican, but the rest of Arkansas leans Democratic. There are some Republicans scattered throughout Arkansas, but nothing compared to northwest Arkansas.

(And in a pure stroke of co-ink-a-dink, Northwest Arkansas is also the reason for the congressional redistricting, what with the population explosion and economic stability. Yep, those two things are completely unrelated!)

Now, this isn't to say that the large majority of the Democrats in our fair state are like national Democrats. Far from it! For the most part, they could almost pass for Republicans.

Well, almost.

All this is prelude to a brewing controversy. At the top of this post, you should see two maps of Arkansas. The first one should have a red splotch in the middle, and yellow in the top left corner, purple in the top right corner, and green running along the bottom of the state. This is the congressional district map as it exists now.

The second map has a yellow splotch in the middle, red in the top left corner, green on the right side, and purple along the bottom and reaching into the top left corner. This is the proposed map (known locally as the Fayetteville Finger), and some people have a problem with it.

Northwest Arkansas is a Republican stronghold... except for Fayetteville. Fayetteville, being a college town, finds ways to elect dirty, filthy hobo-like hippies to office.

I'm not kidding.

They demanded that the newest Wal-Mart be earth-toned and without the distinctive Wal-Mart blue and red colors... and Wal-Mart did it!

Of course, they also had some setbacks. The city administration demanded Cracker Barrel have their roadside sign more in line with what they wanted. Cracker Barrel told them what they could do with that and went to Springdale. Ruth's Chris Steak House was told the same thing, and they decided to open up in Bentonville instead. Macadoodle's is a chain of liquor stores, and they also decided to open in Springdale when the city of Fayetteville decided that they didn't want a non-local liquor store in the city limits.

But I digress.

The big controversy is that the Democrats want to take the population of Fayetteville out of the 3rd District and put it in with the 4th District. The hope is that this would solidify having a Democrat in the 4th District, leaving the 3rd District to the Republicans, and possibly knocking the 2nd District Democratic enough to take it as well. The end result would be one district being solidly Republican, two districts solidly Democrat, and the fourth evenly matched.

Doesn't sound like a party that is confident in its future, does it?

Now, today, we've gotten word that the Fayetteville Finger has been rejected by the committee proposing it, although it doesn't mean that the proposal is dead. There is a new proposal out, but I can't find a map of it yet. When it does, I'll post it as soon as I can.

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