Analysis: Benefits and perils in running as ticket

Posted: June 22, 2013 at 2:25 p.m.

LITTLE ROCK — The marriage of convenience between gubernatorial hopeful Mike Ross and lieutenant governor candidate John Burkhalter is a signal from establishment Democrats that they want a unified front as they try to prevent a full Republican takeover of Arkansas. It also offered a chance to preview a pro-jobs message they hope to run on next year.

But the Ross-Burkhalter ticket poses just as many risks as rewards for the two as they seek the state's top two constitutional offices. The move gives their rivals within the party as well as the GOP an opportunity to blast pre-election deals and "good old boy" politics in a state where establishment candidates haven't always fared well.

The pair announced their mutual endorsements days after Burkhalter opted against a run for governor and said he'd instead run for the state's No. 2 constitutional office. The businessman, developer and Highway Commission member said the endorsements were not part of any deal that led to his decision to keep out of an already heated governor's race between Ross and former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter.

"This is a winning team that's going to move this state forward and create jobs," Ross told reporters as the candidates announced the joint endorsements. "I think the more voters get to know us, the more they're going to agree."

Since Arkansas' governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately, it's unusual for candidates with contested primaries to run as a ticket. The two said they're still running separate campaigns, though presented themselves as a team on economic development efforts.