Is Newport the new Hope?

With Hope natives Bill Clinton and Mike Huckabee out of state politics, Newport is poised to claim the title of top political hometown.

Statewide candidates Mike Beebe, Martha Shoffner and Jim Wood — Democrats running for governor, treasurer and auditor — graduated from Newport High School. In fact, you can find photos of all three in the 1962 Greyhound yearbook, when Shoffner was a senior, Beebe was in 10th grade and Wood was in eighth grade.

“People tease us about it out on the campaign trail,” Wood says. “[Dustin] McDaniel and [Bill] Halter will say, ‘I would be a good statewide official. Granted, I didn’t go to Newport High School. …’ ”

Wood’s ties with Shoffner are even closer. They grew up only two miles apart — he’s from Tupelo, she’s from Weldon — and their family burial plots are within 30 feet of each other.

Shoffner and Wood even ran against each other for state auditor in 2002. (He won, and he’s running for re-election this year.) Wood also served in the state House with Shoffner and in the state Senate with Beebe.

“I don’t think it has ever happened before and I don’t think it will ever happen again,” Wood says of Newport High School’s potential claim to three of the six state constitutional offices. “We’re thinking about moving the state capital up there,” he joked.

Mark the liberal
It wll come as a surprise to most Arkansans, including his supporters, but Sen. Mark Pryor — not Rep. Vic Snyder — is the most liberal member of the Arkansas congressional delegation, according to a national liberal-oriented organization.

Public Citizen, a non-profit group, doesn’t use the word “liberal” in its ratings. Instead, it scored all members of Congress on how often they voted on the side of Public Citizen’s (liberal) position on a number of issues, including proposals to cut back on consumers’ right to file class-action lawsuits, to repeal the estate tax permanently, and to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

The Public Citizen News reported that Mark Pryor voted with Public Citizen 69 per cent of the time, Snyder only 59 percent. The other members of the Arkansas delegation are Sen. Blanche Lincoln, 54 percent; Reps. Marion Berry and Mike Ross, 53 percent each, and Rep. John Boozman, the only Republican in the delegation, 6 percent.

Rough beauty, and romance
Little Rock photographer Dave Anderson will sign copies of his new book “Rough Beauty” at the Clinton Museum Store from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25. He’ll talk about his pictures at 5:30.

Anderson moved here almost two years ago after marrying Little Rock native Ashley Adams.

It was after a stop in Little Rock to see Adams that Anderson went to Vidor, Texas, where he shot the pictures for “Rough Beauty.”

He’d been told to go to Vidor, he said, by a “wacky old character in Tennessee” who told him to go there because there was “ ‘a real active Klan.’ Evidently he thought that was helpful info for a pasty, blue-eyed balding Quaker like myself. He obviously didn’t know my politics.”

Anderson will exhibit photographs from “Rough Beauty” at shows in New York and San Francisco next month, and more shows are planned in the U.S. and Europe. See some of the photos at www.roughbeauty.com.



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