The long-shot Democratic presidential candidate who took 42 percent of the vote in Arkansas' primary Tuesday says he could have done better had the state party not stifled voter interest by saying he was ineligible to win convention delegates.
“The Arkansas (Democratic) Party pulled out all of the stops,” John Wolfe Jr. told Fox News. “They tried to tamp down enthusiasm by saying I wouldn’t win delegates.”
Even so, bolstered by his showing, the Tennessee lawyer says he’s entering the Texas primary on Tuesday.
“Texas is good place for me,” said Wolfe, who admits his “hardscrabble” beginnings have made it difficult to ask for campaign contributions.
The Arkansas Democratic Party did not respond to a request for comment late Wednesday afternoon.
President Obama won 52 percent of the vote in both Arkansas and Kentucky, but Wolfe’s showing and the 42 percent of Kentucky voters selecting “uncommitted” suggests the president is struggling in Southern states.
Voter turnout was low in both states -- 21 percent in Arkansas and 14 percent in Kentucky -- with both parties essentially having wrapped up their presidential primary contests.
Arkansas and Kentucky have a wide base of conservative voters, who in 2008 picked GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain over Obama and would be expected to vote this year for Mitt Romney.
However, political analysts suggest the numbers Tuesday show voters in general are not satisfied with the president’s efforts in his first four years. They also suggest the results indicate Obama might face a bigger-than-expected challenge in winning such key Southern states as Virginia and North Carolina.
Wolfe wants to repeal Obama’s health care reform law, saying, “I have a better one that’s not so corporate-oriented.”
Though the results will not hamper Obama's effort to gain the party's nomination, they are embarrassing for the Democratic Party.
Two weeks ago, federal inmate Keith Judd earned 41 percent of the vote in West Virginia's Democratic primary.
Wolfe garnered roughly 12 percent of the vote in the earlier Louisiana primary and fulfilled his goal of doubling that number in Arkansas.
He said the state party is likely taking its cues from Washington Democrats protecting the president.
But Wolfe said the deadlines he missed to keeping him from winning delegates toward the national convention occurred months before state party officials took his $2,500 entry fee. So they should have informed him at that time.
“It’s the rudest thing I’ve ever seen,” he said.