Favorite

They're off 

Election filing concluded Monday for Democrats and Republicans and judicial candidates, 338 all told.

The filings were well short of a record (over 420 in both 1998 and 2002) and I wonder if primary voter turnout will also be less than expected. There are undeniable pockets of fervid political interest — mostly of the throw-the-bums-out variety — but cynicism about the system and lack of an electrifying electoral figure could just as easily depress overall turnout. Black voters, particularly, seem uninspired this year from what I hear.

Some gleanings from the filing:

Contested Republican primaries for every federal office are barometers of the Tea Party spirit and that niche's perception of a weakness in anti-Obama Arkansas on the part of anyone labeled Democratic. Even Rep. Mike Ross of Prescott, who's careful never to take a step contrary to presumed Arkansas political wisdom (however unwise or how wrong the presumption might be), drew two would-be Republican challengers.

Sen. Blanche Lincoln apparently looks less vulnerable to Democrats than Republicans, drawing only Bill Halter as a primary opponent while eight Republicans want a crack at her. Is that a clue that conventional Democratic primary voters are, on balance, willing to stick with Lincoln? If so, and she wins the primary, it will improve her standing for the general election. There, if her prayers were to be answered, she'd face extremist Jim Holt or colorless and obstructionist U.S. Rep. John Boozman.

Will this be the year for a turn of tide in the Arkansas legislature? The 35-member Senate currently has eight Republicans. All eight of those seats will remain in Republican hands. Additionally, Republicans are challenging Democrats for seven open seats currently held by Democrats, at least three of them in districts with strong Republican constituencies. A jump of GOP senators from eight to 11 or up to 15 would create a dramatic new legislative dynamic. The 100-member House had 24 Republicans when it convened in 2009. At the close of filing, there were 42 unopposed Democrats and 23 unopposed Republicans. Democrats will win a majority of the 35 contested seats, but it's hard to imagine they won't lose ground, probably a substantial amount, and with it the vital three-fourths voting majority on spending bills. Superior Republican recruiting is at work here.

There are two contested races for seats on the Arkansas Supreme Court, both vacant on account of retirements. These could be expensive contests. Voters will want to watch carefully where the money comes from. Lawyers have always been the primary source of judicial campaign cash, but there are lawyers and there are lawyers. Judge contributors by their work on such important issues as financial regulation, workers compensation and medical malpractice.

The most dominant politicians in Arkansas? No, not Gov. Mike Beebe. He has a Republican opponent, former Little Rock senator Jim Keet. The untouchables are Charlie Daniels, unopposed for his run for a third statewide office (auditor this time), Treasurer Martha Shoffner and Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.

Could McDaniel's breeze to re-election prove to be the most meaningful event for future Arkansas politics? Does it make him the foregone conclusion as Democratic nominee for governor in 2014 or would an easy win over token opposition have been better? It certainly means he has four years to luxuriate in a job that allows him to file feel-good lawsuits, travel the state under official auspices and avoid the vexing business of declaring himself on hot-button legislation. He'll find time, too, I'll wager, to do more work to curry favor with the gun lobby.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

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

  • So much for a school settlement in Pulaski County

    The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Cynthia Howell got the scoop on what appears to be coming upheaval in the Pulaski County School District along with the likely end of any chance of a speedy resolution of school desegregation issues in Pulaski County.
  • Riverfest calls it quits

    The board of directors of Riverfest, Arkansas's largest and longest running music festival, announced today that the festival will no longer be held. Riverfest celebrated its 40th anniversary in June. A press release blamed competition from other festivals and the rising cost of performers fees for the decision.
  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.

Latest in Max Brantley

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
    • Jul 20, 2017
  • We're No. 1! in vote suppression

    It's not often that Arkansas can claim national leadership, so give Secretary of State Mark Martin credit for something.

    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Bangin' in LR

    About 2:30 a.m. Saturday, with the Power Ultra Lounge downtown jammed for a rap show by Finese2Tymes (Ricky Hampton of Memphis), gunfire broke out. Before it was over, 25 people had been wounded by gunfire and three others injured in the rush for safety.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

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 Viewed

  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • Pay attention

    If anyone thinks that a crisis with the Power Ultra Lounge shooting, then he hasn't been paying attention to Little Rock.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Turn to baseball

    • leave the rules the way they are. teach players how to hit, don't legislate no…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Pay attention

    • The beautiful new 12th St. Precinct is full of empty rooms: Why not create a…

    • on July 20, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Religious charlatans have been around for centuries. They prey on the weak, sick, poorly educated…

    • on July 20, 2017
 

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