Sunday, July 20, 2014

D.C. politics come to Little Rock — GOP demands loyalty

Posted By on Sun, Jul 20, 2014 at 7:54 AM

FIE ON BIPARTISAN LEADERSHIP: Sen. Bryan Kins wants none of it.
  • FIE ON BIPARTISAN LEADERSHIP: Sen. Bryan Kins wants none of it.
More evidence still that fiercely partisan D.C.-style politics will be the order of the day if the Republican Party enhances its control of Arkansas political offices.

The Arkansas Republican Party adopted a platform yesterday. The day's event included  adoption of proposal by Sen. Bryan King — one of the most overtly partisan and bullying members of the legislature — to say that, as a matter of party dogma, House and Senate Republican caucuses should determine the Republican nominee for House speaker and Senate president pro tem. The resolution further said, according to Michael Wickline's account in the Democrat-Gazette,  that each caucus should unanimously support the nominee of the caucus. (This was a resolution, not a platform plank at the headline originally said.)

In other words: Bipartisanship not allowed. Deviation fro dogma unacceptable. Alliance with Democrats prohibited.

The most recent prompt for this was the Republican-Democratic coalition that chose Davy Carter as House speaker over Rep. Terry Rice, who'd expected to rise to the position. Republicans in the Senate years ago once splintered, too, to give Senate leadership to a conservative Democrat rather than allow Republican Dave Bisbee to  assume chamber leadership on seniority, as had been the custom.

Until rules are changed to prevent secret ballot voting on leadership, the resolution will be hard to enforce. But just give bullies like Bryan King time. Another leader like Carter — willing to depart on occasion from party dogma and form bipartisan coalitions — and they'll resolve to correct that shortcoming, too. It takes little speculation to understand that the partisans like Bryan King expect legislative votes to be cast in lockstep with party dictates, too, not just leadership votes.

Republicans, by the way, still expressed a desire to get rid of Obamacare. Coverage of the platform was silent, however, on the private option version of Obamacare's Medicaid expansion passed in Arkansas with majority support of the Republican legislative caucus.  We do know what Bryan King would do to it, given the chance. In 2015, he'll get his opportunity. And, to his way of thinking, Republican votes should be unanimous, according to caucus wishes, after the John Boehner model for gridlock.

This is another reminder of why Republican Stacy Hurst's promise to be a moderate candidate if elected to a traditionally Democratic House seat from Little Rock should be viewed skeptically. Moderation in pursuit of legislative policy is rejected by the unanimous resolution of the Republican Party of Arkansas. You'll vote as the majority of the GOP caucus decrees or else.

HYPOCRISY ALERT: Remember when Republicans used to blast Democrats for having a party loyalty oath? (It no longer does.) Better yet, remember when Democratic House Speaker Robbie Wills helped raise money for Bryan King (who'd supported Wills for speaker)  against a Democratic opponent? Wills said then that an equal say for all members made sense and was vital in securing the occasional 75 votes needed for extraordinary measures. That was 2008. Bryan King wasn't heard to complain. But he was in the minority then.

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