If Barack Obama experiences an upset in Arkansas’s Democratic primary today, it won’t be for lack of trying. The Obama campaign and the Democratic party have spent significant resources in Arkansas, while an unknown primary challenger has threatened the president's ability to win the support of the state's Democrats.
In March, the Obama camp opened an office in North Little Rock, which earned a visit from national campaign manager Jim Messina. During the opening, Messina reminded the small gathering of Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention speech.
“Remember that speech? When he said there’s not a red America, there’s not a blue America, there’s a United States of America,” Messina said. “That’s the kind of campaign we’re running here. It is why we’re in Arkansas, Montana, Oregon, and every state in this country, because we’re running a campaign that is based on the grassroots."
Messina continued: “So I came all the way [from] Chicago to say one thing and one thing only: Thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing, thank you for what you’re going to do, and thank you for spending every single night in this office helping elect Barack Obama.”
Candace Martin, the communications director for the Arkansas Democratic party, says the Obama campaign has been working in the state. “A lot of their efforts have focused on fundraising and voter registration,” Martin says.
Tim Miller, the deputy communications director at the Republican National Committee, says the Obama campaign appears to be taking Arkansas seriously. "The President sent his national campaign manager to Bill Clinton's home state investing valuable time and resources in a place that won't be receptive to his record of bigger government, higher gas prices, and fewer jobs,” says Miller in an email.
The Democratic establishment also seems to be taking seriously Obama’s primary challenger in Arkansas, John Wolfe Jr. The state party, under the direction of the national party, has already suggested that it will deny Wolfe any national delegates he might win in the primary, claiming he did not file any of the correct paperwork to do so. “The facts are pretty clear on this,” said Martin. Wolfe himself has said the party is trying to “disenfranchise” Arkansas Democrats who vote against Obama.