Already missing D-Mac 

The 2014 race for attorney general makes me appreciate the current officeholder, Dustin McDaniel.

Three Republicans — Patricia Nation, David Sterling and Leslie Rutledge — are in a dead heat race to the right-wing fringe.

They all show disdain for the federal government. It is a burden to Arkansas, all say, though they don't explain how a federal government that sends more money back to Arkansas than it collects here is a burden.

Like the rest of the Republican majority in the legislature, they see no need to obey the U.S. Constitution. All support the unconstitutional legislation to make abortion harder to obtain in Arkansas. They recognize no room in the Constitution — though court precedent and law always have — for regulation of firearms.

And then they get really wacky. All support capital punishment and evince no concerns about the cost, discriminatory application or execution of innocents that complicate the issue. Sterling "distinguishes" himself further by wanting to give state prison officials an exemption from the Freedom of Information Act so they can keep secret how they obtain dubious drugs for lethal injections. Meanwhile, he'd like to return the electric chair to service.

Sterling also is the beneficiary of a huge TV campaign by a secretive political organization, the American Future Fund, which is running thinly disguised pro-Sterling ads in the form of "educational" spots about his support for a Stand Your Ground law. Sterling claims no coordination. You have to wonder how these shadowy right-wingers learned of his advocacy of such legislation. A Stand Your Ground law is a ready alibi for "justifiable homicide." When someone is gunned down for allegedly threatening a person who happens to have a gun, it's hard to prove ill intent when the only other witness is dead.

But back to Dustin McDaniel. He's not perfect. A personal dalliance forced him out of a planned race for governor. But he says Arkansas should come to grips with the reality that resumption of a sustainable death penalty is a long way off, if ever. McDaniel also warned the legislature about the unconstitutionality of the abortion laws it passed over Gov. Mike Beebe's veto. A Republican federal judge agreed in short order.

McDaniel chose the twilight of his term to declare that he now personally supports same-sex marriage (though he'll defend marriage discrimination in court as state law). He supported civil unions when he ran for attorney general, a bridge few politicians would cross at the time. He was among a handful of politicians who opposed the hateful effort by the Religious Right to make it illegal for gay couples to adopt or be foster parents.

Now he's fully evolved. He's running with a rising tide on gay rights, but it's no safe position for an Arkansas politician yet. Recent polling shows a majority of Arkansans under 30 support same-sex marriage. The elderly — people like Gov. Mike Beebe — remain opposed. They won't be around forever, but they still have years of voting left.

McDaniel has left me exasperated more than once, but he demonstrates a heart now and then. It's better than you can say for the Republican candidates. They hate helping the working poor get insurance (Obamacare). McDaniel has stuck his head out on that issue from the beginning.

McDaniel is putting his political skills (including raising money) to work for state Rep. Nate Steel, the Democratic candidate for attorney general. Steel is, sigh, an open carry advocate. The best he can do on the death penalty is say he'd work to pass a constitutional law. I hope his mentoring from McDaniel has included tutelage that this is a safe thing to say for now, if all but impossible to achieve.


Speaking of...


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Nasty women rise up against The Deplorable Donald

    It had to happen. Donald Trump's debate interjection that Hillary Clinton was a "nasty woman" has become a battle cry among women; a Twitter meme; a Facebook favorite, and, naturally, a marketing opportunity for T-shirt, button and bumper sticker makers.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Formal opposition emerges to Issue 3, the corporate welfare amendment

    It became apparent this morning that at least some money would be spent in opposition to Issue 3, a massive corporate welfare proposal to allow the state to pledge unlimited tax money to private projects and to allow local governments to also give money to private business and chamber of commerce lobbyists, a practice that has been ruled unconstitutional currently.
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • Boozman goes negative on Conner Eldridge

    Hmm. Nice ol' Republican Sen. John Boozman goes negative on upstart Democratic challenger Conner Eldridge? Feeling maybe a tiny bit of heat from Eldridge's attacks on Boozman as a nice guy, underachieving nonentity more interested in globe trotting than leading, not to mention a devoted supporter of Donald Trump?
    • Oct 22, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • The education legislature

    Republican political control in Arkansas means many things: lots of gun bills, lots of anti-abortion bills, lots of efforts to make religious belief law, such as discrimination against gay people.
    • Mar 10, 2015
  • Asa's team

    It's a measure of Gov. Asa Hutchinson's appointments that the most widely praised appointment so far was of a man ineligible to hold the job.
    • Mar 3, 2015
  • Supremely discredited

    Arkansas Supreme Court Justice Rhonda Wood and her allies continue to discredit the state's highest court.
    • Jul 30, 2015

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • So many provocations...

    Another bad week demands a Worst Of listing.
    • Oct 6, 2016
  • State university secrets

    Today's subject: lack of accountability at state universities.
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Logoly State Park dedicates new visitors center

Arkansas’s first environmental education state park interprets the importance of the natural world and our place within it.

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Arkansas 2016: the microclimate election

    In the lead-up to the past four Arkansas election cycles, the forecast has been a fairly simple one: strong winds blowing in the GOP direction.
  • The big loser

    So now the big crybaby says he's losing because his opponent is crooked and the referees are blind.
  • Trumped in Arkansas

    After two solid debates and the release of a video and corroborating testimony that further confirmed the misogyny of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is favored to win the presidential election Nov. 8

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The big loser

    • We are leaving in 3 hours. An I never said that anybody said I DID…

    • on October 22, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Here's some more information for the investigator from the Enquirer. It's a confession from somebody…

    • on October 21, 2016
  • Re: The big loser

    • Nobody here but you said anything bad about Shelton. Nothing that happened to her was…

    • on October 21, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation