Beebe Viewed as Candidate to Re-Energize State's Democrats

JUNE 13, 2005 - Posted at 7:37 a.m. CDT

LITTLE ROCK, AR - Democrats in Arkansas are eager to get back into the governor's office.  When Mike Huckabee leaves office after the 2006 election, he will have been governor for ten years.

Attorney General Mike Beebe is the hope of the Democratic Party.  Beebe is expected to announce on Tuesday that he will seek the state's highest office.  On the Republican side, former congressman Asa Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Win Rockefeller are running for the GOP nomination.

Democratic Party officials are excited by Beebe, who can raise money and who party officials say can win back moderate voters.  Party leaders don't expect Beebe to get a challenger in the party primary, although there is nothing to stop a candidate from filing.

Political analysts say Democrats across the nation are excited about 2006.  The party that doesn't hold the White House traditionally makes at least modest gains in Congress after the sixth year of a two-term presidency.  Analysts say the trend can affect statewide races as well.

But analysts also say Beebe is unproven on the campaign trail and he'll have to show he can connect with voters.  Whether it is Hutchinson or Rockefeller who wins the GOP nomination, the Democrat will have a race.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)