Starting with the background: AR-01 is one of those districts that is… interesting. It is currently rated as R +8 in the Cook Political Report, but is held by a soi-disant ‘Blue Dog Democrat’: in this case, Marion Berry. Berry has been in that seat since 1997: he won the 2006 election with 69% of the vote; and he was unopposed in 2008.
However, he will not be unopposed this term. Rick Crawford is going to be challenging him; it’s reported that the NRCC is looking at him as part of their planned campaign against selected ‘Blue Dogs’ that did not get challenged in the last election cycle. Rick is a business owner (AG Watch, a radio agricultural network) and military veteran (Army, bomb disposal) with strong roots in the area; he’s pro-life, pro-Tea Party, ready to run on an agricultural platform and is just as exceptionally happy to see the back of Arlen Specter as most of the people reading this, particularly after what Specter did to Kemp’s memory.
The NRCC is taking a challenge to this district seriously, and it’s no surprise why: while Barry has been comfortably winning elections lately – and didn’t have a challenger last cycle – the district itself has shifted on the national level (Gore in ’00, Bush in ’04, McCain in ’08). Plus there’s the entire agricultural subsidy thing, which Berry is notorious for (and, apparently, has set up an arrangement to allow himself to continue to benefit from personally). Then there’s the ongoing neutering of the Blue Dogs in general; as this NRCC radio ad (H/T: ARRA News Service) points out, Barry’s voting for what Pelosi’s proposing.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.