It was a good year for Arkansas Republicans 

It was a good year for ...

ARKANSAS REPUBLICANS. They won control of the Arkansas legislature and all of Arkansas's congressional districts for the first time since Reconstruction.

It was a bad year for ...

ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS FOOTBALL. Bobby Petrino crashed his motorcycle on April Fool's Day, which turned out to be fitting: Everything that followed seemed like a bad joke to Razorback fans. It was revealed that Petrino was riding with his mistress, a 25-year-old former University of Arkansas volleyball player who he'd recently hired, and he was fired. John L. Smith, a former special teams coach with the Hogs, came in to coach the Hogs on an interim basis. The Razorbacks did not thrive under his leadership, going 4-8 and losing to lowly Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock when the Hogs were ranked No. 8 nationally.

REPUBLICAN EXTREMISTS. Many remain in the state legislature, but perhaps the most extreme, Rep. Loy Mauch (Abraham Lincoln was a war criminal), Rep. Jon Hubbard (slavery may have been "a blessing in disguise" for black people) and House candidate Charlie Fuqua (God said the death penalty was OK for rebellious children), lost their election contests after the Arkansas Times and others exposed their views.

ARKANSAS DEMOCRATS. See above. Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's recent admission of an "inappropriate interaction" with a Hot Springs attorney hasn't filled state Democrats with a lot of hope for the future either.

THE ARKANSAS LOTTERY. In its third year, the Arkansas Lottery showed signs of maturing. It can't afford to continue to support Arkansas students with scholarships at the current levels — $4,500 a year for students attending a four-year school and $2,250 a year for those attending a two-year school. The legislature's lottery oversight committee has recommended dropping the awards sharply, down to $3,300 and $1,650, respectively. Meanwhile, the Arkansas Lottery continues to operate less efficiently than all but three other state lotteries. In the last fiscal year, around 20 percent of the Arkansas Lottery's $473 million in sales went to scholarships. The most efficient lotteries — Oregon and West Virigina — netted 50 and 45 percent of their total sales, respectively.

EXTREME DROUGHT. Much of Arkansas suffered from it this summer. One day in June, it was 107 in Little Rock.


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