Republican Jim Holt brushes past the "other" issues to get to the central focus of his campaign to unseat Democratic incumbent Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas in the U.S. Senate race. "Every person in America has come together on this issue of same-sex marriage," the freshman state senator from Springdale declared during a recent campaign thrust to cultivate support in Lincoln's soil-rich but cash-poor home base in the eastern Arkansas Delta.
"We have the issue. That is, we must defend our traditional values," Holt told supporters, hammering Lincoln's opposition to a proposed federal constitutional amendment to define marriage as only between one woman and one man. He added, "If my own mother voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment, I'd be campaigning against her."
Holt's message was not lost on small groups of locals he greeted a handful at a time, some of whom declared everlasting affection for Lincoln and several generations of a family whose roots run deep here but who also said they'd consider dropping past allegiances to support Holt in the November 2 general election. "I was a good friend of her dad. I know her mother well. I know all of her brothers and sisters. I know them well," retired utility engineer W.R. Thompson said at a Barton Baptist Church fellowship hall where a couple of dozen locals gathered to hear Holt speak over lunch. But Thompson said he was "acutely" aware of Lincoln's vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment. He said he would give Holt a strong listen. "The Lord established marriage," he added.
Holt is counting on the issue to generate support that transcends party loyalties and stirs interest in his campaign among bipartisan Christian conservatives. But even so, would it be enough to dislodge a firmly entrenched incumbent who has raised more than $5 million for a campaign against an unknown opponent running his race on a shoestring? "I don't think there's anything as entrenched as marriage," Holt said. "I don't feel like this is the only issue that we're talking about, but it is the most important issue, I believe, in America."
Lincoln has repeatedly maintained that she believes marriage should be between one man and one woman. Lincoln spokesman Drew Goesl said that the senator believes the legal definition of marriage should be left up to each state as it historically has been. The senator supports the proposed constitutional amendment in Arkansas to ban gay marriage and will vote for it, he added.