Monday, June 14, 2010

TOP STORY >> O’Brien switches focus to fall race

IN SHORT: Jacksonville native wins big, enjoys the lull before the general election.

By John Hofheimer
Leader staff writer

With his landslide Democratic primary victory for his party’s nomination as secretary of state in the rearview mirror, Pat O’Brien says he’s going to take a week or two off from actively campaigning to recharge his batteries, then start working toward a November general election victory over Rep. Mark Martin, his Republican opponent.

“Then tell why I’m the best qualified for the job and move on through November,” he said.

Batteries aren’t all he needs to charge for the impending race. The coffers are empty, he said. His campaign spent all of the $425,000 raised for the primary and the runoff, said the Jacksonville native, businessman and lawyer.

O’Brien said he didn’t know how much he would need to raise to run a successful campaign in November, but that in the next few days he would start working on a budget.
“Jacksonville and Pulaski County are the backbone of my campaign,” he said.

“We’ll do a lot of what we did before,” he said, “travel the state and build the momentum to where it will climax in November.”

Although there hasn’t been a Republican secretary of state in at least 100 years, O’Brien said, “I’m not going to rest on my laurels.”

He said the electorate is campaign-weary right now. “I don’t think anyone wants to see (campaign) TV commercials anytime soon. But this is not the end but the end of the beginning,” he said.

As for the general election campaign, “I will emphasize northwest Arkansas more. In terms of the Democratic primary, that area doesn’t perform as well in the primaries, but I would hazard a guess that the Third District might (have) the highest voting percentage.”

“I’m going after independents and moderate Republicans in addition to Democrats,” he said.

O’Brien said Democrats would run a coordinated campaign in November and that money would be spent more efficiently—and that he might not have to raise as much as he needed to defeat Doris Tate and Mark Wilcox in the primary.

“I’ve talked with Wilcox and Tate, and both are on board and will work hard to bring their supporters into the fold pretty quickly,” he said.

O’Brien said if he is elected, he would probably bring some people from his leadership team in the Pulaski County/Circuit Clerk’s office with him to the new office.

“I haven’t made any decisions but I always have the same philosophy—the best player plays. (The secretary of state’s office has) 160 employees and I’m sure a lot of them would stay.”

“I cannot thank enough the people of Arkansas who supported me during this race,” he said.