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New Arkansas Democratic Party chair says GOP redistricting maps help his cause

Grant Tennille, seen here in 2014, was elected chair of the Democratic Party of Arkansas in October 2021.
Michael Hibblen

New Democratic Party of Arkansas Chair Grant Tennille says he believes Republicans are out-of-step with the majority of Arkansans and he expects electoral, financial and messaging success from the GOP’s recent political moves in the state legislature.

Tennille, a guest on this week’s edition of Talk Business & Politics, was elected chairman of the party a week ago. He said this past week has seen a resurgence in fundraising, opportunity for legislative gains, and encouragement from the party faithful across the state.

“I think that because of the rise of President Trump and his followers, that some people feel incredibly emboldened and empowered to push unilaterally and harder than maybe they ever have before," Tennille said. "here is zero interest, as we’ve seen this time, in working toward the middle and trying to find consensus and in passing legislation that helps all Arkansans. I think these maps are a great example of it. They’re illegal on their face. I believe that the courts will have something to say about them. I think that they put politics and party over the people. And I think ultimately they’ll pay a price for it. I woke up this morning feeling better than I have in awhile because I think there are now four to six seats in central Arkansas that are in play.”

He said the Democratic Party will play some role in challenging the Congressional redistricting maps that the GOP-heavy state legislature has forwarded to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for signature. The most controversial aspect of the new Congressional districts splits the Democratic stronghold of Pulaski County into three different districts.

“I think the strategy behind that [a court challenge] is still being developed, but certainly we are part of the conversation on how that strategy is being developed and we’ll play whatever role it is necessary for us to play to make that litigation a success,” Tennille said.

He intends to work on messaging a state Democratic Party message that he feels will resonate with Arkansas voters.

“I think we’ve got to get back to communicating with Arkansans about who we are and what we stand for,” he said. “I believe that we’ve seen over the last 18 months… a Republican party that is woefully out of step with what the vast majority of Arkansans want. They represent a small, but incredibly vocal minority of people who believe in things like avoiding getting a vaccination, not allowing children to wear masks in schools for their own protection.”

“I think that the danger for the Republican party is there is, and always has been, a middle in Arkansas that maybe doesn’t vote as regularly as any of us would like. And I think at some point here fairly soon, those people are going to wake up and they’re going to have something to say,” Tennille added.

Arkansas GOP chair Jonelle Fulmer was invited to be a guest on this week’s TV program in a joint appearance with Tennille; however, a scheduling conflict prevented her from participating. She has been invited to appear in the near future.

You can watch Tennille’s full interview in the video below.

Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics.
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