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We asked several political science professors: Does late-comer Bill Halter have a chance to win the Democratic primary for governor?
Jay Barth, Hendrix College, Conway
The stars have to align in an exact fashion for a novice candidate like Halter to come from out of the blue to beat Beebe. Now, we all know that politics is an unpredictable thing and the stars could align for Halter from some factor that he has little to do with — a Beebe scandal or some other odd event. In that case, Halter would be sitting there to take advantage of Beebe’s problems. Because that is so unlikely, Halter has to try to align the stars himself.
Hal Bass, Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia
The only scenario I can envision wherein Halter wins the nomination is the complete collapse of Beebe’s campaign, leaving Halter the victor by default. Such a collapse could conceivably result from a debilitating illness (cf. Rockefeller), an accident-induced injury, death, or a substantial scandal, personal or political. I certainly don’t anticipate any of these possibilities actually happening.
Neither do I see Halter’s candidacy weakening Beebe’s electoral prospects. To the contrary, I’m inclined to see the Halter challenge as sharpening Beebe’s campaign skills and organizational apparatus, making Beebe a more formidable general election contender.
Art English, UALR
Anyone with Mr. Halter’s credentials, money raising ability, and former position in government though an appointed position, has got to be taken seriously and be given a chance. After all Jimmy Carter came out of nowhere to win the Democratic nomination in 1972 and Dale Bumpers had lost a legislative election and was just a school board member when he entered and won the gubernatorial nomination in 1970. There are numerous examples in state and national politics of the underdog mounting a winning campaign and there is no question in my mind that Mr. Halter is not the front runner in this race.
Gary Wekkin, University of Central Arkansas, Conway
Based upon what I have seen, I would have to say, “No, Halter does not have much of a chance,” with some confidence.
I think that the state’s news media make too much out of the argument that Mike Beebe is not well known by the public. I think that some liberal reporters have engaged in wishful thinking in re Halter versus Beebe, because of course a primary challenge is more interesting than no nomination contest at all, from a news standpoint.