Monday, June 23, 2008

Green Party of Arkansas to run a record number of candidates in 2008

Arkansas Democrat Gazette
June 22, 2008

Railroader to oppose Dobbins for House
Green Party picks slate at convention

By Charlie Frago
LITTLE ROCK - There's another surprise in the House District 39 campaign
this year: The Green Party of Arkansas unexpectedly nominated a
candidate Saturday to oppose former Rep. Dwayne Dobbins of North Little

Dobbins later Saturday said he wants to run a positive campaign and
refuses to be ashamed for stepping down from the Legislature in 2005
after prosecutors said he fondled a 17-year-old girl.

Richard Carroll, 51, of North Little Rock, a boilermaker for the Union
Pacific railroad and a four-year resident of the district, called the
Green Party on Friday after reading an Arkansas Democrat-Gazette article
about the lack of opposition to Dobbins, who filed just before the close
of the March filing period, surprising Democratic Party leaders who
expected his wife, Sharon, to run for re-election.

No Republican is on the ballot.

Dwayne Dobbins, 45, resigned from the Legislature as part of a plea
agreement that reduced a felony sexual assault charge to misdemeanor

State Democratic Party Chairman Bill Gwatney said he felt betrayed by
the Dobbinses' actions and would try to find someone to oppose him.

Dobbins said Saturday that he plans to emphasize his experience as a
city alderman and twoterm state representative.

He said he has avoided talking to the media because "in a situation that
I found myself in ... it is best to not try to overexplain because I
know the truth."

He declined to comment on his own party's opposition to his candidacy.
He thanked his supporters for remaining loyal. And he said his wife's
explanation in March that she didn't know he planned to file was accurate.

"Whatever she said is true. ... Looking at that part of my life. It had
been dead. [Deciding to file] was a resurrection as far as I'm
concerned," Dobbins said.

Pleading guilty "had an impact" on his life, he said. "But I don't look
at it as a negative. I refuse to hold my head down."

A technology consultant, Dobbins said he wants to focus on state budget
issues, how the high price of gasoline affects working families and
getting more jobs into his district.

He pleaded guilty, he said, "because sometimes innocent people go to
prison. I took the advice of my lawyer. I can't live in the past."

Carroll said Saturday that he first called state Democrats about running
as a write-in candidate earlier last week. They promised to call him
back, he said, but he decided to accept the Green Party nomination
because it would be easier to win with his name on the ballot than as a
write-in candidate.

Although he has been active in union politics, this is Carroll's first
run for public office. Dobbins' "morally unjust" actions prompted him to
run, he said.

Former state Rep. Jim Lendall, D-Mabelvale, who is a member of the Green
Party's state executive committee, said he was thrilled Carroll had called.

"I think he's got a very good shot to win," said Lendall, who served
four terms in the House, including three as a Democrat. "It's a very
good first step for the party. It's been a long time coming and it's
about time we had a third party in the Legislature."

Carroll said he had considered himself to be a Democrat, but he read the
Green Party platformand agrees with its principles. He said he has
"qualified support" for a state lottery. Extra money for education is
good, he said, but that money is disproportionately supplied by
low-income lottery players.

"I feel like I'm my own person. I'm sure I'll be given suggestions from
the Green Party, but it takes a coalition to get things done. You can't
ramrod things through. George Bush has proven that," Carroll said.

He said he would be opposed to raising taxes. Instead he wants to find a
way to spend existing funds to improve schools, lower the crime rate
through prevention and after-school programs and make recycling more

Carroll, a graduate of Catholic High School, is married with five
children. He has worked at Union Pacific since 1993.

Running against Dobbins, who is black, in a predominantly black district
shouldn't be a factor, said Carroll, who is white.

"It shouldn't be an issue. It's not the reason I'm running," Carroll said.

Dobbins agreed, saying that race should play no role in the campaign.

Darinda Sharp, state Democratic Party spokesman, couldn't confirm
whether Carroll had contacted the party.

"As it stands now, we're not supporting any candidate, including the
Democrat, in that race," Sharp said.

Several people have contacted the state Democratic Party about running
as a write-in candidate, Sharp said, and they're responsible for their
own filing fees and announcement. The deadline for becoming a write-in
candidate is Aug. 6.

Elizabeth Aymond, state Republican Party spokesman, welcomed Carroll's
entrance into the race.

"I think it's great that the Green Party found somebody to take part in
the process that's so important to all of us," Aymond said. She declined
comment on whether Republicans would offer support to Carroll. State
party Chairman Dennis Milligan, along with Gwatney, had earlier
announced an effort to recruit a write-in candidate.

Carroll said he might try to organize fundraisers, but hasn't yet
planned one. He plans to attend neighborhood watch group meetings and
other public eventsin the district to spread the word about his candidacy.

"We're going to do the best we can," he said.

The Green Party also nominated Rebekah Kennedy of Fort Smith to oppose
U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor. Kennedy ran for attorney general in 2006, getting
33,386 votes - or 4.4 percent.

She said she'd be happy to tally 3 percent against Pryor, but would love
to top 10 percent.

Party Treasurer Mark Swaney said this year's list of candidates is the
party's largest so far.

In addition to Carroll and Kennedy, the Green Party has nominated Deb
McFarland, 55, of Guy for the 2nd Congressional District; Joshua Drake,
39, of Hot Springs for the 4th Congressional District; Abel Tomlinson,
27, of Fayetteville for the 3rd Congressional District.

Nominations for the state Legislature, aside from Carroll, are Conrad
Harvin for House District 33; Gene Mason for District 42; Brian Barnett
for House District 50; Mary Boley for House District 68, and Wendy Crow
for House District 90.

This article was published Sunday, June 22, 2008.

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