Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Leslie Rutledge's win paced by Pulaski County; could its more moderate nature guide others?

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2014 at 7:40 AM

click to enlarge BIG WINNER IN PULASKI: Leslie Rutledge.
  • BIG WINNER IN PULASKI: Leslie Rutledge.
Pulaski County, the state's largest and most cosmopolitan (with all due respect to booming Bentonville), is not a bastion of Tea Party governance, from City Hall to the legislative delegation.

So I think it's interesting to look at the Republican vote in Pulaski County for attorney general, carried statewide by Leslie Rutledge with 59 percent of the vote. Rutledge, who hails from Batesville, defeated a Little Rock lawyer, David Sterling. The bulk of the dark money ads that backed Sterling was far-right stuff and in heavy rotation on Little Rock media outlets. Both candidates staked out extreme conservative positions, but Sterling went farthest, promising ideological purity and rigid anti-federal-government posturing in the attorney general's office, along with extreme pro-gun beliefs in a state where everybody already thought gun rights were paramount.

Results: Rutledge won 71.1 percent of the vote in Pulaski County, an edge of 4,100 votes that accounted for about a third of the 13,000-vote margin she piled up statewide.

Pulaski County apparently produced the biggest Republican vote in this race in Arkansas, barely more than Saline County but far more than Benton County, once considered the motherland of Republicanism. More than 9,700 votes were cast in Pulaski, less than 5,500 in Benton County.

Might this underscore a lesson I mentioned earlier in looking at the Cantor loss in Virginia as applied to statewide races? You'd hope.

If nothing else, it should shape some politicking in the 2nd District Congressional race. Will Republican French Hill continue his unrelenting rightward push of primary days, figuring that the suburban counties are more important than Pulaski? Or will he lean a little more toward center? Maybe. But he's resolute on opposing an increase in the minimum wage, something Democrat Pat Hays has endorsed.

Even more interesting is that fascinating race for state House in the Heights and western Little Rock between City Director Stacy Hurst and up-and-comer lawyer Clarke Tucker, the Democrat. If it's any indication, Hurst has already responded well to a question I posed about her view of Republican legislative talk of impeachment or recall of judges on account of Judge Chris Piazza's ruling for marriage equality. She told me she would not sign a resolution calling for impeachment of Piazza. As for the resolution Jason Rapert has drawn up, which leans toward a recall procedure for judges, she commented: 

I am always open to studying anything. That said, allowing for the recall of judges gives me pause because of the nature of what they do. 
 
Now if we could get a little moderation like that among Republicans statewide …. 

For another day: the question of whether a Republican can succeed within the Republican House caucus if he or she took a position outside usual party dogma, such as on same-sex marriage or abortion or immigrants.

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