Favorite

Arkansas gets a new governor 

Gov. Jim Guy Tucker was a rock unto the end. The weekend before a federal jury branded him twice a felon, he strolled the midway at Riverfest, greeted the Olympic torch, visited a neighborhood block party and policy wonked it up with a now meaningless discussion of income tax reform.

He was rock solid, too, as the verdicts were read, a twinge of what looked like disgust turning up the corners of his mouth. As the jurors who convicted him filed from the room, he offered them only his chiseled profile. No eye contact.

Again, outside the courthouse, the governor was controlled, if silent, as he shepherded his wife and two daughters through a forest of TV cameras into a waiting unmarked police car. Questions rained about him. An angry protester shouted maniacally.

And, finally, a couple of hours later, beneath the portraits of Arkansas governor's great and small, Tucker had a great moment. He paid tribute to his wife and friends, proclaimed his innocence, vowed to appeal and succinctly announced he would step down by July 15.

He has never stood so tall.

Tucker's resignation, which spares the state a legal battle over his right to hold the seat, presented Lt. Gov. Mike Huckabee with an opportunity to stand tall, too. He rose to the occasion, though he could have transcended it by announcing an immediate withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate. He can be complimented, just the same, for his even tone, his sympathy for the Tucker family.

Soon enough, Huckabee must end the speculation. One of his first duties as governor will be to call an election to fill his vacated lieutenant governor's chair. Should he continue with a race for Senate, that election might well prove to be a race for governor-in-waiting. Potential candidates need to know his plans.

National Republicans will encourage Huckabee to stay the course. They need Huckabee to hold onto a Senate majority.

State Republicans would like Huckabee to drop out of the Senate race. What better for party building than a Republican governor? And so what if Democrat Winston Bryant wins the Senate race against a substitute GOP nominee? Governor Huckabee would at least be able to appoint a Republican as replacement attorney general.

Huckabee's desire to run for U.S. Senate need be delayed only a couple of years, after all. U.S. Sen. Dale Bumpers' seat will be on the ballot in 1998. You'd have to like Gov. Huckabee's chances should Bumpers retire; maybe even if he doesn't. Clinton won't be on the ballot to rally Democrats.

In the end, the decision will be personal. And the prediction here is that Huckabee will, in time, withdraw from the Senate race. It is simply the right thing to do. Huckabee can do no less than Tucker did.

Print headline: "Arkansas gets a new governor" May 31, 1996.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

Readers also liked…

  • Bootstraps for me, not thee

    Mean spirit, hypocrisy and misinformation abound among the rump minority threatening to wreck state government rather than allow passage of the state Medicaid appropriation if it continues to include the Obamacare-funded expansion of health insurance coverage for working poor.
    • Apr 14, 2016
  • Trump: The Obama of 2016?

    Conner Eldridge, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. John Boozman, launched an assault on Boozman Monday morning rich with irony and opportunity.
    • May 5, 2016
  • Double-talk

    A couple of instances of doublespeak cropped up in Little Rock over the weekend.
    • Jun 29, 2017

Most Shared

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Pork barrel III

    Mike Wilson, the Jacksonville lawyer and former state representative, for the third time last week won a victory for the Arkansas Constitution and taxpayers and set back pork barreling.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • Fishy lawmaking

    Last week, the legislature decided not to press a fight that could have further upended a balance of power in Arkansas already tilted too far in favor of the legislative branch.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • LR Central at 70

    The city of Little Rock has finished its "Reflections on Progress" observance of the 60th anniversary of the desegregation of Central High School and the people most affected managed to put well-placed asterisks on the notion that this was a story all about racial progress.
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Trust and obey

    • A very timely and beautifully written piece. Indeed, the whole frightening paradigm is about preserving…

    • on October 15, 2017
  • Re: Trust and obey

    • Anyone else ponder how many times donald trump, playboy for five-decades, may have paid for/insisted…

    • on October 14, 2017
  • Re: Conspiracy theories

    • Here's the business end of the Politifact article cited above by Vanessa: "Newsweek's claim is…

    • on October 14, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation