Friday, June 04, 2010

EDITORIAL >>Causey seems ready

Something can be said for using the simple test of truthfulness when you decide whom to vote for, whatever the office. In the Democratic runoff for Congress in the First District, which includes Lonoke County, that test would not serve Tim Wooldridge well.

Wooldridge, a former state senator from Paragould and lobbyist, is locked in a tight race with young Chad Causey for the party’s nomination. Causey’s boss, Congressman Marion Berry, is retiring.

The Leader recommends Causey. Truthfulness is only one of the reasons, but a very good one.

Causey had run commercials blistering Wooldridge for having voted against a small amount of tax relief for military families and for voting three times to give himself a raise at taxpayers’ expense. There was a little demagoguery in the charges. The tax bill was going to cost the state treasury some money at a time when state budgets were tight, but a vote like that can be made to look a little unpatriotic and uncaring. As for pay raises, the legislature at the beginning of each session passes a bill adjusting the salaries of legislators and constitutional officers to the cost of living index for each of the next two years. A few legislators vote against the bills, but most do not.

Wooldridge could have ignored the boilerplate campaign criticisms or explained his votes, but he picked the other route. He lied about them. He ran his own commercials saying that the whole Causey ad was not true. Over each of the accusations his ad stamped “Not true.”

But the votes were taken openly and are all documented. One can go to the Arkansas legislature website, read the bills and see how everyone voted. But Wooldridge knew that voters were not going to take the time to do that. They will believe the last ad they see. There is no penalty for lying or misleading in a TV or newspaper ad unless the voters levy it at the polls.

Causey doesn’t have a public record, unless you identify him with Marion Berry’s, and Wooldridge does. We don’t take particular issue with the little pay raise and military tax votes (we probably would have supported the little tax break for service families), but on more consequential matters, Wooldridge’s record doesn’t shine. He sponsored some quirky legislation, which fortunately his colleagues batted down.

Chad Causey is the better choice.