Favorite

District 35: Moderate v. wing nut 

click to enlarge Jason Rapert
  • Sen. Jason Rapert

It's a race between a woman who's taken some unpopular positions while serving in the state House and a man whose every conversation while courting votes follows a "Groundhog Day" formula of us v. them.

Rep. Linda Tyler, Democrat of Conway, and Sen. Jason Rapert, Republican of Bigelow, are battling fiercely for the newly crafted Senate District 35, a reverse Louisiana that reaches from Bigelow on the southeast through Conway and up into northern Faulkner County, taking in the bulk of the county's rural area but excluding the county's only sizable population center in the north, Greenbrier.

Tyler is a quiet, genial compromiser who will gladly explain any vote she's made. She listens as much as she talks, and her keel seldom dips or rises excessively. As chair of the House Committee on Public Health, Welfare and Labor, Tyler introduced several bills relating to public health, providing programs for sight-impaired (Act 750) and autistic (Act 196) Arkansans and for the dental health (Act 197) of young Arkansans.

She has taken courageous pro-choice stances and spends more time sifting through details than trying to get her picture in the newspaper.

Rapert's lobbying style lends one to believe he really doesn't care what your opinion is. Trying to get in a word of any sort during a conversation is fairly pointless — he has his spiel to get through. And that spiel never varies, no matter the occasion, locale or number of times the listener has heard it before. First, he plays up his missionary work so that to question him is to question the evangelical God. Next, he tells you how wrong you are about most any subject under the sun and how he's under siege from the media and homosexuals and atheists. It's his way or the wrong way. Putting a fairly obvious point on it, Tyler is much more pleasant to have lunch with.

But, we don't elect state senators on the basis of their personality. If we did, Tyler would win in a landslide. There's none of that snake oil salesman aura about her. Rapert? You might hear him say, "Oh, don't worry about that flat tire. It's just a slow leak. Now, let's talk about that special we have on undercoating."

To date, the campaign hasn't even really begun. The candidates are rallying their base and shoring up support in front of friendly crowds and neutral gatherings.

That will change, of course, and likely sooner rather than later.

The race really boils down to a simple question: Can Tyler maintain enough moderate support in Conway, despite some of her left-of-center votes, to dispatch her rural opponent who speaks the language of conservatives in a reddish county in what is already a purplish state?

In Faulkner County, an active Tea Party outfit keeps the rabid right wing stirred up. Rapert is a darling of this constant, if not growing, group. He represents all they stand for — "Christian" values. From his website: "God's greatest gift is the gift of life. ... Life begins at the moment of conception and we, as leaders, have a moral and spiritual obligation to protect the life of children."

Tyler represents the pragmatic future. In any other era, she would be the conservative in the race, but Rapert makes her look like a card-carrying communist by comparison. (One reason she doesn't wear short sleeves in public is to hide the sickle and hammer tat, or so Rapert and his ilk would have us believe.) And make no mistake, Tyler isn't far-left. She's much closer to the moderate center than any territory a true liberal might occupy. For example, her website touts her coziness with the natural gas industry, which has come under fire for its fracking processes.

"I broke ranks with the leadership of my own party to work with the natural gas industry so we can create new jobs," the site quotes her as saying. However, she did sponsor what came to be Act 609 of the 88th General Assembly, which tightens regulations on who mines what where.

But she's facing an uphill battle. Lots of "name" folks in Conway, who should know better based on their professional abilities and experiences, support Rapert. Strongly.

Max Brantley is on vacation. Rick Fahr is a long-time Arkansas journalist.

Favorite

Speaking of Jason Rapert, Linda Tyler

Comments (5)

Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-5 of 5

Add a comment

More by Rick Fahr

  • The race beat

    The epiphany came while disking a field in 1984. "Journalist" would be a great job. "Sportswriter" would be even better — getting paid to go watch games would be the ultimate cush career.
    • Sep 5, 2012
  • 48 Hours: Two handoffs, one child

    The scene plays itself out dozens of times every Friday evening and Sunday afternoon. It occurs in the parking lot at convenience stores and Walmarts, parks and truck stops.
    • May 30, 2012
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • Why a change of leadership at the LRSD now?

    Johnny Key's abrupt, unilateral decision to not renew Baker Kurrus' contract as superintendent strikes us as shortsighted, misguided and detrimental to the education of our children and the health of our community.
    • Apr 21, 2016
  • Schlafly's influence

    Phyllis Schlafly, mother, attorney and longtime antifeminist, died recently. What Schlafly promoted was not novel or new. Men had been saying that men and women were not equal for years. However, anti-feminism, anti-women language had much more power coming from a woman who professed to be looking out for the good of all women and families.
    • Sep 15, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Guest Writer

  • Seven

    The controversy over the Ten Commandments monument on the Capitol lawn just won't go away.
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • No relief for renters

    If you are hoping to see new laws that improve rights for people who rent homes or apartments in Arkansas, you will find disappointing two bills proposed so far this legislative session — SB 25, by Sen. Blake Johnson (R-Corning), and HB 1166, by Rep. Laurie Rushing (R-Hot Springs). Even if both bills become statute, Arkansas would still have the worst landlord tenant laws in the country.
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Let them eat cake

    An unproductive and harmful bill attempting to curb obesity passed easily out of committee last week at the state legislature. House Bill 1035 attempts to address this serious public health issue by preventing poor families who rely on SNAP (the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps) from purchasing certain items such as candy and sodas.
    • Jan 26, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Forest bathing is the Next Big Thing

Arkansas is the perfect place to try out this new health trend. Read all about the what, why, where and how here.

Event Calendar

« »

March

S M T W T F S
  1 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

  • Worse than N.C.'s bathroom bill

    SB 774 extends birth certificate requirement to bathrooms in all public facilities, and that's an original birth certificate, too.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: More on pits

    • Of course you don't care. If you cared, you might want to find a solution…

    • on March 24, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Enough! I don't care if it is the dog or the human factor. The end…

    • on March 24, 2017
  • Re: More on pits

    • Well, news article require facts, something the Lyin's isn't too good about. As for opinion,…

    • on March 24, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation