With the Arkansas Razorbacks out of the bowl picture again, I’ve turned to the Arkansas State Red Wolves for my home state bowl fix the past two years. They did not disappoint with a thrilling win Sunday night over Ball State in the GoDaddy Bowl in Mobile, Ala.
As I watched, two things occurred to me: First, the Natural State needs to host a bowl game like the GoDaddy Bowl, and second, the Mike Ross Campaign for governor appears to be in trouble with independent voters. Yes, there’s a correlation.
Since 1999, the City of Mobile has done a fine job putting on a bowl game even as the number of bowl games grew to 35.
Before my interest in the GoDaddy Bowl intensified with ASU in it the past three years, I thought of Mobile mainly as the city with the big tunnel on the way to the beach. But the city’s promotional campaign has me wanting to go try its fresh seafood and enjoy the blend of Southern and Coastal culture.
Timing may be right for Arkansas to begin hosting a bowl game with the end of the Bowl Championship Series and the beginning of a four-team playoff.
War Memorial Stadium is in the process of slowly losing the Arkansas Razorbacks, which, honestly, have sustained it over the years. With the announcement of one Arkansas game per year over the next five years, it is time for the War Memorial Stadium Commission to step up pursuit of a bowl game.
Brett McMurphy with ESPN reported last summer that talks had begun regarding a bowl game in Little Rock that would pit a Conference USA team against a Sun Belt team. That could be a boost for Little Rock and War Memorial Stadium.
In addition to the City of Mobile ads during the GoDaddy Bowl, the spot that caught my attention was an ad for Mike Ross, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor. The ad featured perhaps the most prominent ASU alumnus — Gov. Mike Beebe — who was at the game.
"We need a governor and proven leader middle-class families can count on — that’s Mike Ross," Beebe says in the ad. "I’ve had the privilege of knowing Mike for 25 years, and I’ve watched him work. Mike Ross has the common sense leadership style that will make our economy work for everyone. His commitment to our children and schools is unwavering."
But the key hook in the ad was Beebe emphasizing that "no one is more independent than Mike." The ad is an obvious attempt to appeal to a demographic where Ross is lagging — winning independent voters.
A Democratic-leaning group, Americans United for Change, recently paid for Public Policy Polling on the race and found it in a virtual tie, with Republican Asa Hutchinson slightly ahead but within the margin of error. Digging deeper into the numbers, the poll showed Hutchinson leading Ross by 15 points with self-identified independent voters. That spells trouble for Ross.
Sitting on a sizable cash lead over Hutchinson after a healthy year of fund-raising, Ross has begun his effort to win over those who don’t identify themselves as Democrats or Republicans. But choosing to begin spending his war chest 10 months out is a gamble.
Maybe commercials during the game distracted my thinking a bit, but the most enjoyable part of the evening was the Red Wolves’ victory. Howl!
Jason Tolbert is an accountant and conservative political blogger. His blog — The Tolbert Report — is linked at ArkansasNews.com. His e-mail is jason@TolbertReport.com.