March 24, 2010 Edition

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Republican candidates
speak in Walnut Ridge

Baxter County Justice of the Peace Leon Alexander (left) visits with Curtis Coleman, a U.S. senatorial candidate, at the First Congressional District Republican Party of Arkansas meeting on Saturday in Walnut Ridge.
TD Photo ~ Frank Witowski Jr.
Frank Witowski Jr.
Staff Writer

Nearly 150 people gathered at the Lawrence County Republican party headquarters in downtown Walnut Ridge Saturday morning to listen to a number of Republican candidates speak.

First Congressional Chairman Benny Speaks of Mountain Home emceed the event, giving each politician 10 minutes to speak with the audience.

Mark Martin was the first candidate who was given the floor at the meeting. Martin, running for secretary of state, said he felt this next election was crucial and would impact the next 10 years.

Rick Crawford of Jonesboro, First Congressional District candidate for U.S. representative, the seat currently held by Marion Berry, emphasized "putting Arkansas values in Washington, not Washington values in Arkansas."

"Leadership does not wait for opportunity," Crawford said. "Leadership creates opportunity."

The other Republican candidate for the Congressional seat, Princella Smith of Wynne, spoke of her upbringing and gave recognition to individuals and groups who helped her along the way. Smith said she was taught to respect, but question, authority adding that there are individuals in governmental authority that need to be put in check.

There are eight Republicans hoping to win the Republican primary election for the U.S. Senate spot currently occupied by Blanche Lincoln. They are John Boozman, Gilbert Baker, Kim Hendren, Curtis Coleman, Retired Colonel Conrad Reynolds, Fred Ramey, Randy Alexander and Jim Holt.

US Congressman Boozman was unable to attend as he was in a legislative session in Washington, D.C.

Alexander, who is employed by the University of Arkansas, expressed concern about the size of the federal deficit. Commenting that he has overseen large budgets for many firms, he said one solution to the overspending in Washington is to reduce the size of the federal government.

Hendren, who is from Northwest Arkansas, said he is seeking support from individuals who vote independently, as well as Republicans and Democrats, and believes his previous experience proves his leadership abilities. He also said he would speak up for what he believes in.

"It's just not enough to vote," Hendren said. "You've got to speak up."

Holt referred to Proverbs 23:23 which says "Buy the truth and sell it not" in his campaign speech. Coleman, as well as several other candidates, addressed concerns that politicians no longer value the U.S. Constitution.

Ramey commented that he is running for office because of his concern about the future for his children and grandchildren.

Reynolds, who is also running for US Senate, said he has proven leadership from his many years of military experience.

"I'm prepared to lead, just like I led troops in Iraq and Afghanistan," Reynolds said. "Character is what you have when no one is looking. We need straight shooters, not just people with platitudes."

Following the speeches, audience participants asked candidates about issues such as taking money from lobbyists, how to tighten southern border security, consolidation of schools and how to repeal the health care reform if it becomes law.

"The future of our country hangs in the balance in the next election," Lawrence County Republican Committee Treasurer Larry Corbett said. "My freedom is not for sale as one candidate said. We are fortunate to have many great candidates that will stand for the individual."

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