A Tea Partyer won an unexpected and easy victory over House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in Virginia tonight, which has the 'baggers chortling. Message: Republican primary voters in Virginia don't like immigrants much. But I've already seen even some extremely conservative Republican voices on social media raise the possibility that the Republican Party might drive independent voters away.
Which brings us to the two big runoffs in Arkansas today.
You had the ultra-extreme David "Stand Your Ground" Sterling, backed by a huge sum of out-of-state money against Leslie Rutledge, the proclaimed anti-abortion, gun toting Christian woman, who managed to look mainstream by virtue of working in Republican establishment jobs.
It was close in the early voting, but big leads we're noted in early voting for Rutledge in a couple of bigger counties — Pulaski and Saline, the latter maybe the biggest Republican vote engine. With a quarter of the vote in, Rutledge has a comfortable lead. But it's all about where the votes have come from so far and which are out.
UPDATE: By 9:20 p.m., with Rutledge showing 56 percent of the vote, major media were calling the race for Rutledge. This is no victory for moderation. But it was a defeat of scurrilous dark money and outlandish TV claims. It is always good to see that happen. Democrat Nate Steel, a state representative from Nashville, awaits in the fall, among others.
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RUTLEDGE CELEBRATES: After runoff victory.
SENATE DISTRICT 17
Here you had a certified 'bagger, Scott Flippo of Mountain Home, against Rep. John Burris of Harrison, architect of the Obamacare Light Medicaid expansion plan. It was a good civic work that an unhinged Flippo and clandestine cash worked hard to turn into a negative for a capable (and extremely conservative) legislator.
The early vote gave Burris an edge thanks to a bigger vote in his home of Boone County than Flippo was enjoying in his home of Baxter. Turnout in the main counties (Marion is also in the mix) was the key here. Each running well ahead at home — 61-39 for Flippo in Baxter for example and 63-37 for Burris in Boone, but the net is about a wash. Close race.
8:47 PM UPDATE: Update from Baxter Bulletin on the vote looks bad for Burris, good for Flippo.
Flippo is ahead 3,473 to 3,411, but … 9 of 11 precincts are counted in Boone County while only 27 of 43 are counted in Baxter. And Flippo is leading in Marion, with 14 of 16 counted.
9 PM UPDATE: Baxter Bulletin again, with a 3750-3645 lead for Flippo, with all votes counted in Boone County and a few precincts supposedly uncounted in Boone and Marion.
FINAL ACCORDING TO BAXTER BULLETIN:
Scott Flippo won the seat by a 3,913-3,712 vote over Rep. John Burris, of Harrison
Here's how it went down by county, according to the Bulletin (turns out Marion County was the key, with Burris actually having a 37-vote lead over Flippo in the combined vote of Boone and Baxter):
Baxter County: 1,451 (Final)
Boone County: 1,780 (Final)
Marion County: 481 (Final)
Total Votes: 3,712
Baxter County: 2,062 (Final)
Boone County: 1,132 (Final)
Marion County: 719 (Final)
Total Votes: 3,913
They'll be dumping tea in Lake Norfork tonight.
The fight over continuation of Medicaid expansion gets interesting, with a Senate short of a 75 percent vote based on campaign and other declaration. But I don't care what Scott Flippo says — or the other 'baggers — I predict tonight the expansion will continue. Arkansas can't afford not to, even if it must resort to some bad old judges to get it done.
I asked Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office today for an explanation about why, two and a half months after a legislative request, the office hasn't issued an opinion on whether open carry of firearms is legal without exception in Arkansas. They're busy, a spokesman said. /more/
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge, who is driven by animosity toward the Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act, announced today that Arkansas will join 16 states in challenging the EPA's rejection of state power plant startup, shutdown or malfunction plans. /more/
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge announced this evening that she'd join with 15 other states in fighting President Obama's effort to limit emission of greenhouse gases from electric power plants. /more/
Must public officials allowed by law to marry people marry all comers, or may they refuse on personal religious grounds to marry same-sex couples? Attorney General Leslie Rutledge declines to give a direct answer. /more/
Attorney General Leslie Rutledge has announced the hiring of Lee Rudofsky as the state's first solicitor general. Many states have such a position for the person viewed as the state's top litigator on appellate matters. /more/
The ACLU of Arkansas, which participated in the successful challenge of Sen. Jason Rapert's bill to ban most abortions at 12 weeks, posted on tis Facebook page a picture of the payment of attorney fees by the state medical board and vowed to use it for future lawsuits. /more/
The attorney general's office has twice more rejected proposals by Robert Reed for the form of a ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. Today, too, Attorney General Leslie Rutledge rejected the form of a proposal to repeal Amendment 94, the vehicle by which state officials just got fat pay raises and legislators got a loosening of term limits. /more/
A lawsuit was filed yesterday in Saline Circuit court by a Benton man using a John Doe alias seeking to represent all those damaged by release of personal information in the hacking of records of Ashley Madison, the website that advertises itself as a way for people to have affairs with married people.
Former Arkansas Treasurer Martha Shoffner will be in federal court at 9 a.m. this morning for sentencing on her conviction of taking kickbacks from bond salesman Steele Stephens for state bond business. She resigned after being trapped in an FBI-recorded sting with Stephens, who's never been charged, wearing a wire.
Ernest Dumas writes about the difficulties faced by Gov. Asa Hutchinson in matching the achievements of Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe, even though he, like the majority of the legislature is a Republican. In short, Hutchinson needs Obamacare money, though his party rests on a foundation that hates Obamacare.
A two-week cruise from Vancouver to Alaska was nicely timed for the August heat wave. It dipped into the 40s during my visit to the Hubbard Glacier, loudly "calving" with mighty booms of cracking ice. Here's a brief politically tinged travelogue.
If one were of a low and suspicious nature regarding the New York Times' historically inept Washington Bureau, one might suspect yet another example of the "Clinton Rules" — that is, a shaky allegation unsupported by facts.