Arkansas gets a new governor 

Gov. Jim Guy Tucker was a rock unto the end. The weekend before a federal jury branded him twice a felon, he strolled the midway at Riverfest, greeted the Olympic torch, visited a neighborhood block party and policy wonked it up with a now meaningless discussion of income tax reform.

He was rock solid, too, as the verdicts were read, a twinge of what looked like disgust turning up the corners of his mouth. As the jurors who convicted him filed from the room, he offered them only his chiseled profile. No eye contact.

Again, outside the courthouse, the governor was controlled, if silent, as he shepherded his wife and two daughters through a forest of TV cameras into a waiting unmarked police car. Questions rained about him. An angry protester shouted maniacally.

And, finally, a couple of hours later, beneath the portraits of Arkansas governor's great and small, Tucker had a great moment. He paid tribute to his wife and friends, proclaimed his innocence, vowed to appeal and succinctly announced he would step down by July 15.

He has never stood so tall.

Tucker's resignation, which spares the state a legal battle over his right to hold the seat, presented Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee with an opportunity to stand tall, too. He rose to the occasion, though he could have transcended it by announcing an immediate withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate. He can be complimented, just the same, for his even tone, his sympathy for the Tucker family.

Soon enough, Huckabee must end the speculation. One of his first duties as governor will be to call an election to fill his vacated lieutenant governor's chair. Should he continue with a race for Senate, that election might well prove to be a race for governor-in-waiting. Potential candidates need to know his plans.

National Republicans will encourage Huckabee to stay the course. They need Huckabee to hold onto a Senate majority.

State Republicans would like Huckabee to drop out of the Senate race. What better for party building than a Republican governor? And so what if Democrat Winston Bryant wins the Senate race against a substitute GOP nominee? Governor Huckabee would at least be able to appoint a Republican as replacement attorney general.

Huckabee's desire to run for U.S. Senate need be delayed only a couple of years, after all. U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers' seat will be on the ballot in 1998. You'd have to like Gov. Huckabee's chances should Bumpers retire; maybe even if he doesn't. Clinton won't be on the ballot to rally Democrats.

In the end, the decision will be personal. And the prediction here is that Huckabee will, in time, withdraw from the Senate race. It is simply the right thing to do. Huckabee can do no less than Tucker did.

Print headline: "Arkansas gets a new governor" May 31, 1996.


Speaking of...


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • More bridge explosions scheduled

    The Highway Department has announced more explosive work on the remains of the Broadway Bridge at 9 a.m. Sunday.
    • Oct 28, 2016
  • Lawyer circulates ideas about a lawsuit over the marijuana ruling

    Little Rock lawyer Jack Wagoner has posted a Q&A on his Facebook page about the Supreme Court marijuana ruling yesterday that includes a solicitation for potential plaintiffs in a lawsuit he's contemplating.
    • Oct 28, 2016
  • Casino opponents claim measure was headed for defeat

    The group that successfully fought a proposed constitutional amendment to allow three more casinos in Arkansas said today that its polling showed the measure would have been decisively defeated had it reached the ballot.
    • Oct 28, 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
  • Supremely discredited

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

    I don't know what if anything might arise or be planned in the future relative to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's order to end Medicaid reimbursement for medical services (not abortion) provided by Planned Parenthood in Arkansas.
    • Aug 20, 2015

Most Shared

  • LR Central student scores perfect on ACT

    The Little Rock School District announced yesterday that Karina Bao, a senior at Little Rock Central High School, had scored a perfect 36 composite score on the four-part ACT test, an achievement by less than a tenth of one percent of the 2.1 million who took the test.
  • Little Rock police kill man downtown

    Little Rock police responding to a disturbance call near Eighth and Sherman Streets about 12:40 a.m. killed a man with a long gun, Police Chief Kenton Buckner said in an early morning meeting with reporters.
  • From the mind of Sol LeWitt: Crystal Bridges 'Loopy Doopy': A correction

    Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is installing Sol Lewitt's 70-foot eye-crosser "Wall Drawing 880: Loopy Doopy," waves of complementary orange and green, on the outside of the Twentieth Century Gallery bridge. You can glimpse painters working on it from Eleven, the museum's restaurant, museum spokeswoman Beth Bobbitt said
  • Ted Suhl loses another bid for new trial; faces stiff sentencing recommendation

    Ted Suhl, the former operator of residential and out-patient mental health services, has lost a second bid to get a new trial on his conviction for paying bribes to influence state Human Services Department policies. Set for sentencing Thursday, Suhl faces a government request for a sentence up to almost 20 years. He argues for no more than 33 months.
  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football and foster kids

    It took a football stadium to lay bare Republican budget hypocrisy in Arkansas.
    • Oct 27, 2016
  • 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
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

Jodi Morris's lifelong ties to the National Park Service

"History is always happening" at Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site

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

  • The end is near

    Practically speaking, it doesn't really matter if Donald Trump accepts the results of the November election.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: The end is near

    • Dear Clinton shill, your words aren't convincing anyone but the ideologues of a global rule…

    • on October 28, 2016
  • Re: Confrontation vs. innovation

    • Do you need Personal Loan? Business Cash Loan? Unsecured Loan Fast and Simple Loan? Quick…

    • on October 28, 2016
  • Re: Football and foster kids

    • I think Bart Hester just hates tax dollars being spent anywhere for anything.

    • on October 27, 2016

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