Tennessee lawyer John Wolfe — who is running against Barack Obama as a Democratic nominee for president in Tuesday’s Arkansas primaries — says he would be able to beat the incumbent president in primaries throughout the country, if only he had the money.
Wolfe provides an interesting twist in an otherwise mundane Tuesday primary: he could win a significant amount of the vote in Arkansas, where Obama remains deeply unpopular. Wolfe is running closely behind Obama in the race.
A poll taken in Arkansas' fourth congressional district shows less than half of Democratic voters (45%) support Obama. Thirty-eight percent said they back Wolfe and 17% are undecided.
The simple fact that Obama has steep competition from a fellow Democrat shows that there could be cracks in the president’s re-election campaign.
In an interview with PolicyMic, Wolfe said that he could be a force against the president.
“If I ran a similar campaign in big states like Pennsylvania or New York, I would do just as well,” Wolfe said. “I just don’t have the money.”
Wolfe is an Occupy Wall Street-inspired Southern Democrat. He believes in the free market system, but also argues that corporate interests have hijacked the political process in Washington.
His two major policy platforms revolve around ending “Obamacare” and removing moneyed interests from the political process.
Wolfe calls Obama a hypocrite: “Obama rallies against big business by day, but by night he takes their money. There are so many inconsistencies.”
On health care: “Obamacare gives the insurances companies a full monopoly. People have to deal with an insurance monopoly. This is not right. People need a choice. If health care was more selective, it would be a huge boon to small businesses.”
On Wall Street: “We also need to get banking under control. We need to make the banks loan more money. They have been speculating and making risky moves – which have cost billions of billions of dollars when they make a mistake. These same bankers are also influencing Obama right now. Banks have way too much clout in Washington.”
On Occupy Wall Street: “The 99% is not just a number – it represents an America that is losing. Losing their houses to the very same corporations we are paying to keep afloat.”
Wolfe also believes in extending low-interest student loans to help young people better manage their college tuition.
Wolfe is the outsider underdog that many people — especially conservatives — have hoped would take on Obama in 2012. But even if Wolfe makes significant inroads at the Arkansas primary, his victories won’t be recognized.
On Monday, the Arkansas Democratic Party announced that it would not award any delegates Wolfe, even if he wins a strong portion of the popular vote.
According to the Associated Press, Democratic Party spokeswoman Candace Martin said Wolfe had not complied with Arkansas' delegate selection rules and had not turned in two mandatory documents needed in the application process. Martin also added that the Democratic national party has told the Arkansas state party that any delegates Wolfe might claim won't be recognized at the national convention.
In a PolicyMic story comment, Wolfe argued against this point: “I filled out 4 sets of forms. I wrote out a check for $2500 to be paid to the Arkansas Democratic Party. They cashed it. Nothing was said that day about deadlines missed or forms missing. It gets better, stay tuned for more.”
Obama remains deeply unpopular in the South. Many pundits think Obama has next to zero chance of winning the state in the general election in November. In 2008, Obama lost Arkansas by 20 points to John McCain.
Wolfe also was on the ballot in the Louisiana primary, where he won three parishes and had 12% of the vote across the state.
Even if he isn’t recognized for his Arkansas performance, Wolfe still says he will try and make a difference in election 2012.
“I want to get my point out there,” Wolfe said. “I want to go to (the Democratic National Convention in) Charlotte and present these ideas. I want to get things done.”