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Tucker enters congressional race 

Also, Bart Hester does not approve of dance majors, Rapert critic gets arrested and more.

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Tweet of the week

"Why higher ed does NOT need increase funding. They lease a sign to encourage computer science degrees or math teachers? No they push for dance majors. Lots of hardworking Arkansans subsidizing this! Not ok @UALR"— Sen. Bart Hester (R-Cave Springs and @BartHester) on Feb. 5.

Tucker enters congressional race

State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) announced that he had entered the race for 2nd District Congress, a seat held by second-term Republican Rep. French Hill of Little Rock. Paul Spencer of Scott and Gwen Combs of Little Rock announced earlier as Democratic candidates.

Tucker, 37, is a lawyer — a graduate of Harvard and the University of Arkansas School of Law. He's been an energetic legislator, with some success joining forces with Republicans on legislation (maternal leave and health care, to name two), though Republicans, seeing him as a rising Democratic figure, have often opposed his legislation simply to prevent him from adding to his resume.

In his announcement release, Tucker explained his motivation for running, "[M]y life changed last year. As I lived through and beat cancer, I watched as Congress voted to make our health care more expensive, undo good programs like Arkansas Works, and strip away health care for Arkansans with pre-existing conditions. I have watched as politicians used children's health insurance as a bargaining chip, placing greater loyalty to their political party than to our state and country, and I decided I could no longer stand by and watch."

Tucker, who raised $228,000 to win his first state legislative race against Republican Stacy Hurst four years ago, has demonstrated the connections to make a strong financial showing. Spencer has done well so far as a grassroots candidate refusing to take PAC money, raising some $150,000 from 2,000 small donors. Combs, who was lead organizer of last year's Women's March, has developed a strong social media campaign.

Whoever wins the Democratic nomination will face a wealthy banker loaded with cash from corporate sources and PACs. Hill had more than $1 million on hand at the end of 2017, with about $250,000 of his money from the securities industry and bankers, particularly The Stephens Group.

Rapert critic arrested

Stephan Ferry, a Conway resident who has been raising money for a potential lawsuit against state Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) to challenge his blocking people from social media accounts, has been accused of filing a false police report alleging he'd been threatened by Rapert.

The police report indicates the police had concluded that Rapert had told the truth and Ferry, 45, had not about a telephone call between the two men. Ferry complained Jan. 24 to the Conway police that Rapert threatened to send someone after him. According to the Conway police transcription of a tape Rapert made of the call, Rapert said this:

"I want to put you on notice that if you continue to harass and intimidate and send threatening messages to me via email, social media or contact my office then I will file a police report with law enforcement and they can investigate this matter further, sir."

The police earlier recorded Ferry in a complaint to them about Rapert threats. At one point, according to the report, Ferry quoted Rapert as saying, "I'm sending people after you." He said Rapert had asked for information about his phone and address and when he resisted, Rapert said: "That's OK. I have people to come after you and I'm in touch with law enforcement and as soon as we hang up I'll be contacting them and giving them a recording of this phone call."

The police report, prepared Jan. 25, said it was clear from the full content of Rapert's recording that this isn't what Rapert said. But he repeatedly warned Ferry not to call him or he'd call police. According to the report, Rapert said:

"Be on notice: Do not call, do not attempt to reach me in any manner, do not come near my home, my business, do not come anywhere near me anywhere in this community, sir. And I'm gonna turn you in right now and I'll let them investigate the matter."

Ferry was charged with filing a false report of criminal wrongdoing, a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. He was released after posting a $1,195 bond and ordered to have no contact with Rapert.

This is not the first time Rapert has gone to a police agency over interactions with critical constituents. He's also complained to State Police and Capitol police. In one famous incident — disputed by Rapert — a constituent said Rapert told him he was armed when the constituent tried to ask Rapert a question about same-sex marriage on the parking lot of a Conway home improvement store. Rapert has also fought with Wikipedia and threatened libel over material he didn't like in descriptions of him.

Buckner up for S.C. job

Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner is one of five finalists for the job of police chief in Charleston, S.C., and was scheduled to visit Charleston this week as part of the process. Buckner's administration has been under fire lately from some elements of the community as well as the Black Police Officers Association.


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