Tuesday, October 4, 2016

A hot Republican primary for Arkansas Senate

Posted By on Tue, Oct 4, 2016 at 7:25 AM

SEN. JEREMY HUTCHINSON: Faces election challenge.
  • SEN. JEREMY HUTCHINSON: Faces election challenge.
State Rep. Kim Hammer, a Benton Republican, announced last night that he'd be a candidate for state Senate in 2018 against incumbent Republican Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson, who lives in western Little Rock.

Hammer, according to Michael Wickline's account in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, said he wanted to serve notice early and give potential candidates for his House seat plenty of time to prepare. He listed no specific policy reasons to challenge Hutchinson, who was philosophical about a political challenge.

Here's the truth: On a relative scale, Hutchinson is less reflexively a dogmatic conservative than Hammer. (You're welcome, Mr. Hammer. You may quote this in your campaign ads.) As a sometime trial lawyer — when he's not working as a legislative fixer for paying clients or working in  various ways with the likes of John Goodson — Hutchinson brings a more law-based than faith-based approach to some issues. But he's also in the private club business in the old Packet House — an operation that still leaves me suspicious about how entertainment of legislators may be carried out there within bounds of the porous "ethics" amendment that legislators got voters to approve. And Hutchinson is working, too, to insinuate coin-operated gambling machines into taverns and convenience stores across Arkansas. Hammer is a pretty reliable Religious Right legislative voter.

Hutchinson, the nephew of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, likely will be pushed away from his occasional slightly moderate inclinations in 2017 roll calls with the prospect of Hammer's challenge ahead.

More of the district is in Saline County than Pulaski County. Hammer won't do well in Pulaski. The key issue is Hutchinson's appeal in Saline, a fact of which he is well aware. Remember when he directed state surplus money to a July 4 fireworks show in Benton?

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