By BLANTON MATTHEWS | The Arkadelphian
ARKADELPHIA — The Clark County Republican Committee held their annual Lincoln Day Dinner at Henderson State University’s Garrison Center Ballroom on Tuesday night, October 4, 2022. The event drew Republicans and other notable figures — such as former Democratic state Sen. Percy Malone — by the hundreds. Prominent figures in Arkansas’ Republican Party spoke, and the county committee gave awards to local, loyal party members.
The opening invocation by state Sen. Jason Rapert set the tone for the evening, invoking God and the event’s namesake President Abraham Lincoln comparing the Dobbs decision and Arkansas’ subsequent response to ban nearly all abortions to the abolition of slavery.
Event organizer Eddie Arnold and Justice of the Peace District 3 candidate Nick Stover held a live auction for several valuable items including handmade knives and weekend vacations. Other items for sale were more unorthodox, like two bricks from the now-demolished former Clark County Democratic Party headquarters that were in downtown Arkadelphia — the pair of which sold for a whopping $1,000 — and a laptop purported, with tongues firmly in cheek, to belong to Hunter Biden.
The committee presented two awards, Clark County Republican of the Year and Legislator of the Year. Both awards were ties. The former went to committee members Kevin and Kim Wood and Irwin and Lloydine Seale, and the latter to state Representatives Richard Womack and Justin Gonzales of Districts 18 and 19 respectively.
Chair of the state Republican Party Jonelle Fulmer addressed the crowd with an update on the state of the party. She, like all speakers of the evening, were more than optimistic about the upcoming elections.
“We’re gonna win,” said Fulmer, “from the courthouse, to the statehouse, to Capitol Hill.” Candidate for Lieutenant Governor and current Attorney General Leslie Rutledge spoke highly of the “dark red Federal delegation” in attendance, including keynote speaker Sen. Tom Cotton and Rep. Bruce Westerman. Rutledge, in her eighth consecutive appearance at the Lincoln Day Dinner, boasted taking “100 legal actions” against President Joe Biden, of which include the filing of motion to intervene siding with the state of Texas in the lawsuit Texas v. Pennsylvania to overturn the results of the 2020 Presidential election. Upon closing her speech, she left the event early, saying that her infant child at home is under the weather.
Westerman’s presence was a surprise, and a welcome one to the supportive attendees and organizers. Earlier Tuesday, he prayed at the Garland County Leadership Prayer Breakfast. He spoke briefly between Rutledge and Cotton.
In his keynote speech, Sen. Cotton decried what he called “boondoggle[s]” of Democratic leadership and the rival party at large. While the event was for the county and local Republicans, Cotton’s focus was national. He accused the Democratic Party of not believing in a “free America,” first seeming to temper this by saying this did not “necessarily” mean they all “hate” America, he added that in his estimation, “many of them do.”
Cotton claimed that six-digit annual death tolls for drug overdoses were the deliberate design of the Democratic party and described his ideal response, involving military outfits like Seal Team Six for an “actual war on drugs.” Cotton also encouraged everyone in attendance to donate online to Republican senate candidates in other states, including Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia.
Following the address, Eddie Arnold, salesman of Jostens high school class rings, said he pulled Cotton’s file from his time at Dardanelle High School. Arnold described Cotton’s ring as inscribed “President Cotton,” hopefully suggesting a 2024 candidacy for the nation’s highest office. Cotton did not comment.
Arnold Rawls, tenor of the Metropolitan Opera and former Ouachita Baptist artist-in-residence, performed twice in the evening, first singing the national anthem and, as the evening closed, a medley of songs, including “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” and “God Bless the U.S.A.”
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