Democratic candidate for governor 

Birth certificate drama and more.

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Quote of the week

"It's an honor, it's a privilege to be the head football coach at the University of Arkansas. The one thing you'll never have to do is, you'll never have to tell me go. You may have to tell me, 'Whoa,' but you'll never have to tell me go. We're gonna put it in the left lane, and we're gonna put the hammer down. We're gonna have fun." — New Razorback football coach Chad Morris at his introductory press conference. Morris, previously the head coach at SMU and offensive coordinator at Clemson, is known for his up-tempo, dynamic offensive schemes. Morris signed a six-year contract worth $3.5 million annually.

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Democratic candidate for governor

Jared Henderson, the former executive director of Teach for America in Arkansas, has announced he's running for governor as a Democrat. The Little Rock native is a University of Arkansas graduate with master's degrees from Harvard Business School and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Before Teach for America, Henderson, 39, worked as a research scientist for NASA and a consultant for the global outfit McKinsey & Co. In early interviews, Henderson looks to be positioning himself as a moderate with big ideas. Can a moderate Democrat with big ideas give a popular Republican incumbent governor a significant challenge? The odds would appear to be long.

Birth certificate discrimination fixed, under pressure

Birth certificates are once again being issued at the state Department of Health after a brief halt ordered by a judge. Last Friday, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox ordered the state to stop issuing birth certificates until it initiated a fix to procedures that had been found unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.  In response, Governor Hutchinson sent the health department a directive for new procedures to comply with the equal protection clause of the Constitution. Previously, parenthood was presumed in the issuance of birth certificates to opposite-sex married copies but not to same-sex couples, which the U.S. Supreme Court found unconstitutional. Under the governor's order, married same-sex couples will be treated the same as opposite-sex couples — that is, female spouses of mothers will be treated the same as male spouses — and such couples can receive corrected birth certificates at no charge if they have a certificate under the old rules. 

But Rep. Bob Ballinger (R-Berryville) wants to keep fighting. He said that in the upcoming fiscal session of the legislature, he'll push to eliminate the presumption of parenthood afforded to married couples. Instead, Ballinger would try to dodge the equal protection issue by asking mothers to identify the biological father.

New UAMS candidates

The University of Arkansas System has named two finalists for the UAMS chancellor position, previously held by Dan Rahn, who retired: Stephanie Gardner, UAMS' interim chancellor; and Cam Patterson, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Weill-Cornell Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Two previous finalists — Dr. A. Wesley Burks, dean of the school of medicine at the University of North Carolina, and Dr. Danny Jacobs, executive vice president of the University of Texas School of Medicine's Galveston branch — withdrew after visits to the campus, forcing the search to start anew.

A potential complicating factor in attracting top candidates: UAMS is facing a dire budget crunch that could lead to job cuts.

2nd District polling

There was polling underway earlier this week for 2nd District Congress. Among the tests: U.S. Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) vs. state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock). The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was likely behind the poll. Tucker's name has long been floated as a congressional candidate. Two Democrats, Paul Spencer and Gwendolynn Combs, have already entered the race.


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