Democrats shun Obama’s Arkansas challenger

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Democratic officials are trying to sideline President Barack Obama’s Arkansas rival, John Wolfe, who is running a close second in the state’s Fourth District before the May 22 open primary.

Party spokeswoman Candace Martin told The Daily Caller May 18 that Wolfe can’t get any delegates — regardless of the vote count — because he did not file critical documents on time.

Wolfe dismissed Martin’s claim, saying the party accepted his $2,500 registration fee March 1 for the primary. “They’re not going to get away with it, because the courts won’t put up with it,” said Wolfe, who is a lawyer.

“It will be a summer of litigation. … I hate to do it against my own party, but they’re acting as if this guy [Obama] is some kind of emperor.”

The announcement is really meant to “tamp down turnout, but it won’t work,” Wolfe told TheDC.

He is getting more attention, talking to more voters, conducting robo-calls, and is slated to appear on former Gov. Mike Huckabee’s TV show on Fox News Channel May 19, he said.

Huckabee is the popular former governor of Arkansas. (RELATED: Obscure Ark. candidate optimistic after poll shows him in competitive race with Obama)

Wolfe has momentum, partly because a May 10 poll by Hendrix College of 418 Democrats showed he had support from 38 percent of the voters in the state’s fourth district.

The poll said Obama had only 45 percent support, while 17 percent were undecided.

On March 24, Wolfe won enough votes in Louisiana’s primary to claim delegates at the convention, but party officials claim he didn’t meet the party’s rules. He won 17,804 votes, or 5.63 percent of the vote in Louisiana.

Wolfe is gaining from the same anti-incumbency mood among some Democrats that helped jail-inmate Keith Judd win 41 percent of West Virginia’s May 8 primary vote.

Wolfe said he wants to end taxpayer support for big banks, and favors a health-care overhaul that would reduce the health-care burden on small-business by extending a revised Medicare system to everyone. Costs would be kept down by competition, he said. “People are looking for something else — they’re tired of party labels and they’re looking for solutions,” he said.

The party primary is open, allowing any voter — including GOP partisans — to vote in the Democratic primary. “If they like my ideas, they should do it,” he said. “If they don’t, they should vote for whomever they please,” he said.

Many current Republicans are former Democrats, and some have called to support him, Wolfe said.

So far, Wolfe has not run any radio or TV ads.

“My campaign is self-financed … but we do have people on the ground and interested in trying to make a change and difference,” he said. By not asking for other people’s donations, “you won’t have anyone else’s agenda to serve,” he said.

Martin said Wolfe won’t get any delegates for the convention because he had failed to file two documents, Martins said. Wolfe is “completely non-compliant. … He has not followed the procedures,” she said.

One document certifies compliance with the party’s affirmative-action plan for delegates, and the other identifies an “authorized representative,” she said. The documents were due in December and February, she said.

“The qualifying deadline is March 1,“ countered Wolfe. “I came in and paid my $2,500, I filled out a lot of forms for them that day. … I filled out one form after another,” he said.

The party officials “were just stunned — you could tell from the moment I signed those papers there would be animosity,” he said.

Democrats “are using the state machinery … [to] put on the primary, and now they saying it doesn’t mean anything,” to voters who want to support an alternative to Obama, Wolfe said.

“They’re trying to deceive every voter in Arkansas.”

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