Election sifting: The morning after | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election sifting: The morning after

Posted By on Wed, Nov 5, 2008 at 5:51 AM

It wasn't a dream. Wait. It is a dream come true. A black man has been elected president of the United States. It doesn't mean the world is post-racial, but Barack Obama is certainly a post-racial candidate.

One question to ponder: Would he have won without the market collapse?

Another question: Does George Bush believe last night's devastation of his party amounts to commentary on his two terms?

Speaking of race: Two black judicial candidates won seats in majority white districts last night -- Rita Bailey in a countywide district judge race and Mark Leverett in a Little Rock district judge race.

This lends powerful evidence to the argument that many lawyers have made that it is time to end the system by which judicial subdistricts were created some years ago to settle a lawsuit and create districts intended to elect black judges. It's certainly clear the U.S. Supreme Court today wouldn't favor such race-centered districting.

And also speaking of race: The precinct results in LR and everywhere will be interesting. Will the unprecedented black turnout show a down-ballot effect in many other races?

The Pulaski county vote is completely tallied. News:

House District 38: Tally shows Democrat John Edwards with a 71-vote lead over Republican Kelly Eichler. Last I heard, there were some military absentees uncounted. Given the narrow margin and some differences in tabulations Tuesday night, I still expect a recount here.

Republican gains: If Edwards prevails, Republicans will score a pickup of only one seat in Pulaski County, Jane English's defeat of Val Yagos in Jacksonville. The GOP lost departing JP Allen Kerr's seat on the Quorum Court to Democrat Kathy Lewison. Republican county judge candidate Phil Wyrick got a 59-41 licking from Buddy Villines. My guess is an overwhelming black vote for the Democrat didn't hurt Villines. But he still ran way behind Obama in Pulaski. NLR Mayor Pat Hays got 55 percent of the vote. Will he take that as a mandate to stock the riverfront with still more rust buckets and continues his extravagant national travel on taxpayers? I hope not.

As I mentioned last night, Pulaski joined the statewide endorsement of ballot measures by margins of 66 to 72 percent, with one notable exception: Pulask said NO to Initiated Act 1, and by a solid 55-45 vote. Only Searcy and Washington counties joined us in the NO column.

The friends who joined me in fervent opposition to this measure aimed at limiting the family-building potential of gay people are depressed and wondering what went wrong, given some hopeful poll numbers. I think the core message of the measure, regardless of the impact on children, reached voters. Discomfort with gay people, if not outright homophobia, remains a powerful factor in Arkansas political life. It was a bad night for UA pollster Janine Parry, whose recent Arkansas Poll showed broad disapproval of the measure. Small consolation: The margin on the issue statewide, about 57-43, was well below that by which voters banned same-sex marriage. I'm grasping at straws here for a little uplift. A legal challenge of the act is likely.

Elsewhere in the legislature: Sen. Gil Baker's 55-45 edge held up in Conway. Ann Clemmer took a former Democratic seat for Repubs in Bryant. Jonathan Dismang of Beebe won a vacated Democratic seat in District 49, for a net gain of three for the GOP in the House, counting the Jacksonville seat, with one up in the air.

NWA SPECIAL: Washington County has its first female county judge, state Rep. Marilyn Edwards. It will be Fayetteville Mayor Dan Coody in a runoff with Lioneld Jordan. Steve Clark's comeback was defeated. Fayetteville voters also overwhelmingly approved the resolution saying that marijuana enforcement should be the lowest law enforcement priority. My advice: Don't fire up a doobie believing you know enjoy protection in Fayettenam.

Time does not wound all heels: Sen. Shawn Womack of Mountain Home, who invented the profoundly disturbing constitutional amendment that will now give us annual legislative sessions and whose legislative behavior was profoundly injudicious, snuck away with a 52-48 election to a circuit judgeship. Advice: If you can help it, don't admit you're gay in Judge Womack's court.

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