Wednesday, May 12, 2010

TOP STORY > >Snyder’s aide wants top job

Leader senior staff writer

Of the five people in the May 17 Democratic primary seeking to succeed Second District Rep. Vic Snyder in January, his former chief-of-staff, David Boling, is perhaps the most Snyder-like.

He alone among the candidates has said that like Snyder, he won’t fundraise in non-election years, and Boling sought in a recent interview to associate himself with Snyder’s platform, saying that as chief of staff, he worked on legislation for the congressman.

Boling said he’s seen the benefits of limitingfundraising. Instead, he’d “focus on solving problems and listening to constituents. It’s a good policy, and I’d like to see it continue.”

Boling, 46, a Little Rock lawyer with a wife and two children, served as Snyder’s chief-of-staff for the last two-and-a-half years.

“I loved the work and working for him and the people of the Second District,” he said. “I want to be an advocate. I’ve been doing that type of work and want to continue.”

Boling said that thanks to his experience as Snyder’s chief of staff, he would be able to hit the ground running. “I can’t imagine any better preparation,” he said.

Boling resigned as the congressman’s chief of staff in January to run for the seat Snyder is vacating.

“Getting the economy going is the big issue right now,” Boling said. “There’s too much anxiety; the unemployment rate is too high. I’ve been unemployed myself.

“Congress passed the recovery act about a year ago. It was the right thing to do. I would have supported it. I worked on the bill,” he said.
“The private sector has to be the engine,” Boling added. “The economy was on the ropes. It needed a kick in the pants.”

Boling said unemployment has started to plateau.

He said he would like to find money for small businesses that need credit.

“I would take some of the money set aside for TARP and move it over to SBA, extending more credit to small businesses,” he explained.

Boling said he’d help to implement retraining programs for the unemployed or underemployed and also work to open export markets.

Of the 10 years he worked for the Justice Department, Boling said he worked intensely for two years on negotiating trade agreements, especially with East Asia.

“I’m the only candidate in this race who has experience opening up foreign markets,” Boling said, “and that’s a key to economic growth in the future.”

The final piece of Boling’s plan to jumpstart the economy is to expand broadband to rural areas. “That’s particularly important in Arkansas,” he said. “ (In) communities that get broadband, small business will have more business, access to markets and customers they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Regarding the health-care bill that President Obama recently signed into law, Boling said he would have supported both the bill that passed in November, which he worked on, and the final bill that was signed in March.

He says he likes the law because it helps children by expanding Medicaid in Arkansas, where most recipients are children, and helps young adults by allowing them to stay on their parents’ policies until they turn 26.

“A young lady on my campaign, 24, had been denied insurance because as a child she had attention-deficit disorder and asthma. Within a few months, she’ll be able to get on her father’s policy,” he said.

Because of the new law, insurance companies can’t deny coverage for pre-existing conditions or rescind contracts. The new law will help seniors by closing the prescription-drug donut hole. It also allows small businesses to join state exchanges to get a basic package of benefits and tax credits, he said.

“It also helps reduce the deficit over 20 years by $1 trillion, according to the Congressional Budget Office,” he said.

Boling, who comes from a family split along party lines, said he’s a Democrat because that party best reflects the principles and values that moved the country forward, with programs like Social Security, Medicare and passage of civil rights laws.

Boling said he’s a fourth-generation Arkansan, born and raised in Pine Bluff.

“My grandfather was a watch repairman on Main Street. My father was the first in the family to go to college, on a ROTC scholarship,” Boling said.

Boling graduated from law school at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. He went to Japan on a Rotary Scholarship. He earned a master’s of law degree at Columbia University.

He went to work for the Department of Justice in 1995 as an anti-trust lawyer.

He served in both the Clinton and Bush administrations and worked on civil and criminal matters and international trade.

He worked at the Mitchell Williams Law Firm in Little Rock on business litigation from 2005 until he went to work for Snyder.

“I share his commitment to Little Rock Air Force Base,” Boling said.

He cited the Joint Education Center at the base as a project Snyder helped enable, and he applauded the work the residents of Jacksonville did in passing a tax to contribute $5 million to the construction of that college.

He said the C-130 base has “a bright future, and we want to do all we can to support it.”