Years ago, Arkansas license plates did not say, “The Natural State” as they do today. Years ago Arkansas license plates proclaimed “The Land of Opportunity.” Somewhere along the way, the state simply decided there was not much opportunity left and changed the motto. Curtis Coleman most likely did not approve of that change.
Anyone spending five minutes with Curtis Coleman will learn two things quickly about the man; first, he is passionate about Arkansas and second he has a natural ability for business leadership. Curtis is not the “politician as usual” Little Rock is used to seeing. In fact, politicians around the state are telling him that approaching the work of the governor with a business mind will not work. When told his business approach will not work, Curtis is quick to respond with the words “watch and see.”
Whoever said that knowledge is power, must have been thinking about the passion that Curtis has for Arkansas. He has jumped into information about Arkansas’ history, tax code and ability to compete with both feet. Curtis has traveled and compared Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Louisiana’s approach to taxes and business growth to that of Arkansas’. Curtis’ findings are simple. Arkansas does not compare. Someone listening to Curtis can hear a voice of concern when he states “Arkansas is the second most regulated state in the nation.” Curtis knows that those strict regulations have hindered economic growth. Curtis’ voice rises as he notes that Arkansas has a huge tax code. Curtis goes on to note that surrounding states pay an average worker $138 more a week than the average worker in Arkansas. Like many Arkansans, Curtis simply does not understand why Arkansas cannot compete on a national, if not global level. He points out that Arkansas is a state of abundance with more food, fabric, timber, and water than the population of the state can use. The passion that Curtis has for Arkansas pushed him to run for Governor at a time in life when most people are thinking about retirement. Why? Curtis has children. Curtis has grandchildren. Curtis knows that someday all of our children will inherit the Arkansas our generation leaves behind. Frankly, Curtis does not like what is going to be left behind. He wants to leave behind a state that can prosper beyond the limitations currently imposed on the state. The passion Curtis has forced him not to look at retirement, but instead to travel hundreds of miles within Arkansas and hundreds of miles outside the state. He has built the strongest grass roots campaign in the history of Arkansas politics. He built it from the border city of Texarkana to the far reaches of the northeast Arkansas in Blytheville. County groups have come together and seen the passion that Curtis presents and they have said, “Yes, Arkansas can prosper.”
Unfortunately, for the politicians that will face Curtis in the political arena, they simply have not had to face someone like him before. Not only does he have the passion for the state unequalled by others, he has an ability to lead in business. Normally business leaders are out making money and politicians are out making rules to regulate the business leaders. This time things are different. Curtis is intent on taking his brand of business leadership into the political area and the sacred halls of the Arkansas capital. As Governor Coleman, Curtis will force the rank and file politicians to answer the tough questions like, “Why does Arkansas have 587 failing schools?” or “Why do skilled workers have to come from other states to Arkansas and work?” and ultimately, “Why does Arkansas have a tax code bent on business destruction?” Curtis will lead and if the politicians doubt that, then they only need to stop and look at the grass roots campaign group that continues to grow. They need to listen and look at the people falling in line behind Curtis. Curtis is pulling support from Republican and Democrat business leaders. He is pulling support from families, moms, dads, students, workers, and business owners. Curtis is pulling support from people who are not saying, “Here’s a $50 check, do what you can,” instead they are saying, “Here’s a $100 check that’s a payment toward my contributions…. I’m sending more next month.”
You will meet Curtis in the coming months. You will have an opportunity to see him in a meeting, or at a fundraiser. You do not have to give money immediately, just go talk with him. Go spend a minute with him, shake his hand, listen to his vision, share your story, and watch the sparkle in his eye. When you see that sparkle light up as Curtis talks about how Arkansas can prosper, you will know for yourself that there is passion for Arkansas and leadership for Arkansas. More importantly, he will give you a reason to believe a Governor can be a business leader that will make you see that Arkansas can be the land of opportunity again.