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Motives or just money? A look at the people behind the political newcomers.

PERSONAL LIKES, BUSINESS interests and party loyalty often lead business leaders to ally themselves with candidates for national office.

And, of course, there is the old axiom that everybody loves, and supports, a likely winner.

Take the case of 1st Congressional District candidate Blanche Lambert of Helena, who surprised almost everyone with her upset of incumbent Bill Alexander in the Democratic primary.

Perhaps realizing that Lambert had momentum and a conducive political climate on her side, supporters have flocked to her cause.

Still, there's no question that much of the money behind her has flowed in from politically active individuals in Washington and from political action committees.

Lambert has received $124,200, or 38 percent of her total contributions, in PAC money, according to campaign filings. That leads to criticism from Republican opponent Terry Hayes that she is a Washington insider who would be controlled by special interests.

Stephens Support

But Lambert also has received significant contributions from a roster of prominent business people around the state.

Members of the Stephens family are among those Arkansans who have contributed to Lambert. Jack Stephens, chairman of Stephens Inc.; his son, company Chief Executive Officer Warren Stephens; and Warren's wife, Harriet, all have contributed the maximum $1,000 to Lambert's campaign.

"I like Blanche a lot and think she would do a good job," says Warren Stephens about his contribution. He also has encouraged others to support Lambert financially, he adds.

Although Warren Stephens has contributed to the congressional campaign of Secretary of State Bill McCuen as well, Stephens says that does not mean he supports strictly Democrats.

"It very much depends on who the candidate is," he says.

In the case of the $1,000 contribution to McCuen's campaign, Stephens says, "it's certainly not a slap at Jay Dickey."

Dickey of Pine Bluff is McCuen's Republican opponent in the 4th District.

Harriet Stephens and Witt Stephens Jr. have contributed $1,000 each to McCuen, as did Terry Rose, son-in-law of the late W.R. "Witt" Stephens.

Another prominent businessman on the Lambert and McCuen bandwagon is Tyson Foods Inc. Vice Chairman John Tyson, who gave $1,000 to each candidate. His father, Don, contributed $1,000 to McCuen.

John and Don Tyson, along with other members of the Tyson clan and the company's attorney, James Blair, have lined up behind 3rd District candidate John VanWinkle. The Fort Smith lawyer is in a heated race with state Rep. Tim Hutchinson to assume the seat vacated by the retiring John Paul Hammerschmidt, a Republican.

VanWinkle's run gives the Democratic Party a good shot at assuming the seat Hammerschmidt has had a lock on for 26 years.

Tyson Foods spokesman Archie Schaffer says the financial support of the Tysons is in line with the family's usual political bent.

"The Tyson family is pretty close to what I'd call yellow-dog Democrats," Schaffer says. "They've historically supported Democrats."

In particular, the Tysons have been known for their longtime support of Gov. Bill Clinton.

Other Interests

Banking, legal, natural gas and agriculture interests also have lined up behind Lambert, judging by campaign contributions.

Worthen Banking Corp. President and Chief Executive Officer Curt Bradbury has given $1,000; First Commercial Bank's political action committee and Barnett Grace, the bank's chairman and chief executive, have combined for donations of more than $1,000.

Lawyers at the Little Rock offices of Friday Eldredge & Clark and Mitchell Williams Selig Gates & Woodyard have contributed nearly $3,000 to Lambert.

Riceland Foods Inc. President Richard E. Bell has donated $1,000. Arkla Inc. Chairman Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty and his wife have contributed slightly more than $1,000.

Lambert also has numerous $100 donations from prominent businesswomen around the state, many of whom may have attended a $100-a-person fund-raiser for Lambert hosted by the Arkansas Women's Action Fund.

A supporter of abortion rights, Lambert also has received significant support from national women's groups. That includes $2,500 from the National Organization of Women PAC and $1,000 from the National Abortion Rights Action League PAC.

Hayes, who trails Lambert considerably according to a recent Arkansas Democrat-Gazette poll, has raised only a fraction of his opponent's total. His contributions are $28,413, about 9 percent of Lambert's.

Hayes' most notable campaign support comes from Republican Party sources, including a $1,000 donation from Sheffield Nelson, the 1990 Republican gubernatorial nominee.

Other significant contributors include business people from Jonesboro and Little Rock and retired individuals in the 1st District.

Unlike Lambert, Hayes has little PAC money. A $500 contribution from the National Association of Life Underwriters PAC is an exception.

VanWinkle has raised $331,324, slightly more than Lambert, for his 3rd District race.

In that battle for Hammerschmidt's seat, a power split has occurred. While the Tysons are backing VanWinkle, members of other northwest Arkansas family dynasties are behind Hutchinson.

They include banker Jim Walton, the late Sam Walton's son who oversees the family holding company, and his wife, Lynne. Both have given $1,000 to Hutchinson. Another notable Wal-Mart Stores Inc. contribution came from company executive Bobby L. Martin of Lowell. Martin has given $2,000.

Also backing Hutchinson are members of the Hunt trucking family. J.B. Hunt of Fayetteville, owner of J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., and his daughter-in-law Allyson P. Hunt of Springdale each have contributed $1,000.

The 3rd District's food industry also is represented among Hutchinson's contributors. Mark Simmons of Siloam Springs, president of Simmons Industries Inc., a poultry wholesaler, has donated $2,000. James T. Hudson, chief executive officer of Hudson Foods Inc., has given $500.

Backing Both

Twin City Bank Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Terry Renaud of North Little Rock put his money on both candidates, donating $500 to Hutchinson and VanWinkle.

Asked about his dual support to candidates in a district that does not represent him directly, Renaud says, "I think anyone who serves in a national office represents me as a citizen."

Renaud describes himself as "not politically oriented." He says party affiliation is not a factor in his decision of whom to support.

VanWinkle also has support from members of Little Rock's banking and legal communities. He has received a $500 donation from Worthen Banking Corp.'s PAC and about $2,000 from attorneys at the Mitchell firm.

An apparent favorite in the legal community, VanWinkle, a former chancery judge and prosecutor, also has received a $10,000 donation from the Association of Trial Lawyers.

The McCuen-Dickey race for the 4th District seat pits contributions from the district's timber interests, Republican loyalists and Wal-Mart interests against contributions originating in the Los Angeles area and donations from the Stephenses and Tysons.

McCuen's most notable in-state support comes from the Stephens family. Counting relatives and associates, Stephens is responsible for $5,000. The Tysons have chipped in $2,000.

There is also a $1,000 contribution from Worthen Banking Corp.'s political action committee and $1,000 from two executives at North Little Rock's Coulson Oil Co.

A significant chunk of McCuen's out-of-state support comes from PACs and California contributions, including a $1,500 donation from Isaac Starkman, who identifies himself as a Studio City deli owner.

Other contributions are from Los Angeles textile manufacturers and from individuals with a company called Switch USA, located in the Los Angeles area.

The California contributions are likely the result of connections McCuen made during the filming of "Stone Cold," an action-adventure film that used the state Capitol in its climactic scene. No one with McCuen's campaign was available for comment on the contributions, and McCuen did not return telephone calls.

Timber Support

Dickey has received $1,000 each from Jim and Lynne Walton of Bentonville. Jim, the son of the late Sam Walton, and his wife also have donated to Hutchinson's campaign.

Republican Party supporter Ted Skokos, a Little Rock attorney, and Mary Lynn Nelson, wife of Sheffield Nelson, each have contributed $1,000 to Dickey.

Dickey also has the support of timber interests, both vocally and financially. Chris Barneycastle, executive vice president of the Arkansas Forestry Association, says the group is recommending support for Dickey.

With at least $6,000 contributed from individuals who identify themselves as connected with the timber industry, that encouragement is working.

One of those supporters is John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs, president of Anthony Timberlands Inc.

Anthony says he is supporting Dickey for several reasons. Dickey is a longtime friend, a native of the 4th District and "is familiar with the timber industry and friendly to it."

Jerry Davis of Monticello, a consulting forester, says his $500 donation to Dickey is a vote of confidence as well as a statement against McCuen.

"|Dickey~ owns a business and understands the real world economics that we live in," Davis says. "He's not a professional politician."

Davis says he and others in the forestry business want to see the industry remain stable and, therefore, are supporting Dickey.

"We just don't need people who shoot from the hip for partisan reasons."

Some political supporters, especially those with business interests hanging in the balance, apparently have that in mind when backing a candidate.

Michael Coulson, president of Coulson Oil Co., has given $500 to McCuen. That donation has been matched by Coulson Chairman Jim White, who explains his support this way:

Coulson owns about 20 Shell Superstop convenience stores in the 4th District, mostly in Hot Springs.

"We just feel like we need to support the candidate who's going to win," says Coulson.
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Author:Martin, Dixie
Publication:Arkansas Business
Date:Nov 2, 1992
Words:1580
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