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Jonesboro Sun Scorches Steve Rockwell

Updated: Apr 13


If you’re following the state senate race in Jonesboro (the election is in five days; early voting is underway now), you’ll want to read the blistering editorial from the Jonesboro Sun that ran yesterday. It makes one obvious point and one surprising one. The obvious point is that the two candidates — John Cooper and Steve Rockwell — disagree about many issues:

If ever there were two polar opposites running for the same state Senate seat, John Cooper and Steve Rockwell would be them.These guys probably wouldn’t agree on the weather. However, both fit their party’s platforms: Cooper is a conservative Republican; Rockwell a liberal Democrat. Of all the candidates who ran for the District 21 seat in the special election and runoffs, Cooper is probably the most conservative and Rockwell the most liberal.

What’s surprising is that, three different times, the Sun’s editor, Chris Wessel, makes the same point I did the other day — that Rockwell seems uninformed and heavily reliant on content-free slogans. For instance:

After sitting in on interviews with both candidates and reading other news reports about their campaigns, this is my perspective: Cooper tells you exactly what he thinks; Rockwell beats about the bush, reeling off scripted talking points that never really answer the question until you give him no other choice but A or B.


Rockwell said he also believes that a healthy, better educated workforce would attract more industry and economic opportunities to Arkansas. Therefore, he supports the private option that could add nearly 250,000 uninsured folks to the Medicaid rolls, increasing taxes on the wealthy and “properly” funding education. I tried a number of times to get Rockwell to explain what “properly funding education” meant and how he would know what was adequate, but he couldn’t come up with a good answer, just a scripted one written in his binder. To say “properly funding education” says to me that Rockwell thinks education isn’t funded adequately, although he had no idea what that threshold should be. He said experts in the field in Little Rock would let him know.


As for ethics, Rockwell thinks making the campaign reporting process electronic and available to the public would add to the transparency of government. Of course, that process already exists. Cooper uses it; Rockwell files hand-written paperwork that has to be scanned into the system by state bureaucrats in Little Rock.

It’s not too hard to read a message between the lines: there’s not a lot of substance to candidate Steve Rockwell.

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