If you read the Arkansas Blog, you already know this. But for our print-only readers:
The nuanced political observer recognized a fairly important statement at last week’s Gillett Coon Supper, an annual gathering that always draws a big crowd of politicos.
Gillett is U.S. Rep. Marion Berry’s hometown, and he plays host and godfather. He told the crowd that Attorney General Mike Beebe would be “the next governor of Arkansas.”
Yes, U.S. Rep. Mike Ross was there, sitting right next to Beebe. But we don’t think that’s a problem. Ross just got a plum seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The guessing is that post reduces the likelihood of his making a race for governor in 2006.
Berry’s words, from a man who’d been known to grumble about Beebe in years past, are significant. Politicians don’t often make public endorsements — especially ones that could impact their own party’s primary.
De-wayne done gone
Dewayne Graham, the investigative reporter and former congressional candidate, is no longer with Fox 16. The station won’t talk, but references to Graham have been excised from the station’s website.
Conway residents are organizing in opposition to a $35 million apartment complex proposed for land currently occupied by the Cadron Valley Country Club. They want to prevent developers Hal Crafton, Rush Harding and Jim Lindsey from rezoning the property to allow multifamily dwellings.
The Knob Hill Property Association, consisting of residents who live next to the club, formally voted to oppose the rezoning, and a Little Rock law firm, Catlett and Stodola, has been hired to assist with a petition drive. Don Melton, the former State Police director, is acting as an official spokesman for the residents, and six other neighboring property associations are calling special meetings to discuss the issue.
The Conway Planning Commission will consider the rezoning request Jan. 18.
The next generation
When we saw coverage of David Huckabee’s wedding at the Governor’s Mansion, we noticed that his sister, Sarah, was identified as being a resident of Washington, D.C. Turns out that after graduating from Ouachita Baptist University last spring, she landed a job as the executive assistant to the Undersecretary for Congressional Affairs at the U.S. Dept. of Education.
Her brother, John Mark, also has a federal job in the nation’s capital. He is the director of constituent correspondence for U.S. Rep. John Boozman, who represents Arkansas’s 3rd congressional district.
David is making his home with bride Lauren in Little Rock, where he is director of non-traditional revenue for Clear Channel Communications.
Keep on running
Gov. Mike Huckabee will be featured in the April issue of Runner’s World (out in late March) for his weight loss and his training for the Little Rock Marathon, which will enjoy the national exposure, too. No cover for the guv, alas, an editor said.
Hog fans just can't quit blaming the refs for the NCAA men's basketball tournament loss to North Carolina. Now the Arkansas Senate has gotten in on the act, with this resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Keith Ingram and getting bipartisan co-sponsorship from that brutish and short sandlot roundball player, Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson.
IndieWire breaks news long whispered downtown — a more ambitious successor to the Little Rock Film Festival is in the works, with backing from writer/director Jeff Nichols, a Little Rock native. His "Loving" has won wide acclaim recently.
Old habits die hard. We may have a new Republican majority in the legislature, but like the old Democratic majority, it still doesn't hurt to have a lawmaker spouse to land a part-time job during the legislative session.
When we first asked Gov. Mike Beebe about the "circuit breaker" idea out of Arizona (automatically opting out of Medicaid expansion if the feds reduce the matching rates in the future), he said it was fine but noted that states can already opt out at any time, an assurance he got in writing from the feds.
An interesting controversy is brewing in Conway Public Schools, periodically a scene of discord as more liberal constituents object to the heavy dose of religion that powerful local churches have tried to inject into the schools, particularly in sex education short on science and long on abstinence.