Arkansas primary may pose challenge for Obama
May 22nd, 2012
10:50 AM ET
11 years ago

Arkansas primary may pose challenge for Obama

(CNN) – Arkansas's Democratic presidential primary, which takes place Tuesday, wouldn't ordinarily seem like a political fight. After all, President Barack Obama has already wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination and is engaged in a heated general election campaign with GOP rival Mitt Romney.

But the Arkansas primary may become another political headache for Obama, who two weeks ago faced an unlikely challenge from a federal inmate in West Virginia's Democratic contest. In Arkansas, the challenge comes from John Wolfe, a perpetual Democratic presidential candidate who has never held political office.

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A poll taken in Arkansas's fourth Congressional district - which includes the towns of Hope, Hot Springs and Camden – shows less than half of Democratic primary voters (45%) support Obama. Thirty-eight percent said they back Wolfe and 17% are undecided.

Wolfe's challenge to Obama will be more about appearance than substance – after all, Obama already has the requisite delegates to become his party's nominee at this summer's Democratic National Convention. But losing a Democratic primary would not look great for his campaign, which has sought to put states into play that were previously considered unwinnable for Democrats.

Obama lost Arkansas by 20 percentage points to Sen. John McCain in 2008, 59%-39%, and the state has never been on the Obama team's radar. However, other southern and Appalachian states certainly are: North Carolina and Virginia are both states Obama won in 2008 but that he's fighting to retain in 2012. If Wolfe wins, or comes close to winning Arkansas' Democratic primary, it will potentially throw into question Obama's ability to woo voters in those states.

It would also be the second time in the past month the president has faced a Democratic challenge in a state unlikely to vote for him in the fall.

In West Virginia's May 8 primary, Keith Judd received a sizable chuck of the Democratic vote – 41% by the latest count. Judd is currently serving a 210-month sentence in a federal prison in Texas for extortion.

In an interview with CNN after the election, Judd attributed his success to anger directed toward the political establishment.

"The poor and middle class are being controlled by the wealthy," Judd said. "It's like Monopoly. When one person gets all the money, the game is over."

Asked about Judd's success in an interview with WTOV, Vice President Joe Biden said he doesn't "blame people, they're frustrated, they're angry."

"When you're out of work, man, it's a depression," Biden told the CNN Ohio affiliate. "And a lot of people are still hurt because of this God awful recession we inherited that cost 8.4 million jobs before we could really get going."

- CNN's Janet DiGiacomo contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Arkansas • President Obama
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Obama 2012 – BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    Obama would have lost or come close to losing a LOT of states if he had an opponent.
    Don't you mean Mitt Romney? Any competent candidate would have had quickly routed the field, just like McCain did back in 2008. A field that included MItt Romney, who was a complete non-factor.

    May 22, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
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