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The state Democratic Party is anxious to showcase 34-year-old educator Megan Godfrey in her unlikely challenge to Republican state Rep. Jeff Williams in Springdale, long decidedly Republican.

The state party chairman, Michael John Gray, more or less insisted that I sit down for acquaintance-making with her while she was in Little Rock last week for educational administrator meetings, a fundraiser for her hosted by Democratic women, and the state Democratic Party convention and festivity.

“We think she’s a great candidate, and we like her chances,” Gray said.

Godfrey and I visited about so many topics so rapidly that I had to ask her to double back on that thing I thought I’d heard her say, which was that she had been homecoming queen at the University of Arkansas.

Not to make a big deal of it, but it’s not every day a political columnist interviews a state legislative candidate who turns out to be a former UA homecoming queen.

Yes, Godfrey said, in 2004, her senior year, she was the nominee for homecoming queen of the student government association, of which she was a member. She went before the football seniors for an interview, which ended with quarterback Matt Jones asking if she knew the Razorback fight song, and, if so, to prove it by singing it.

So, she belted it out. “I guess I did OK,” she said. “I knew the right lyric was ‘rah, rah’ instead of ‘go Hogs.’”

Before long she graduated and thought about how best to pursue her values. She was influenced by her church background that included missions to Mexico. Her college major in Spanish was decided when she fell in love with the people on such a trip in eighth grade, she said.

“I thought about law school,” she said, “but then I saw an opportunity in education.”

So, yes, she’s one of those, by which I mean bright young service-minded Arkansas millennials or near-millennials, academic standouts in college, who might have gone into law and perhaps then public service in past generations. But these youngbloods — gubernatorial candidate Jared Henderson, congressional candidates Hayden Shamel and Chintan Desai, and state legislative candidates Jonathan Crossley and now Godfrey, among others — instead chose education as their Peace Corps or Vista.

Godfrey’s life’s work is English-as-a-second-language instruction, for several years as a teacher in Springdale and in the last school year as an administrative overseer of ESL programs in the Fayetteville Public Schools. She is fluent in Spanish.

These young people to whom I refer want to try to enhance opportunity early rather than advocate as a lawyer for the aggrieved later — not that there’s anything wrong with advocating as a lawyer for the aggrieved later. No one is dissing the more conventional credentials of, say, Clarke Tucker.

They stayed with education occupationally even as they decided to venture into electoral politics to widen the canvas of their service. And they are seeding a remaking of the post-Clinton Arkansas Democratic Party, not one likely to win much if anything this November, but one beginning to turn slowly at sea.

It is steered hard in that turning by these bright young people who know well from public education’s modern challenges about arduous steering.

I’m making their acquaintance and, in the process, starting to think that there is yet hope both for public education and — perhaps more distantly — a healthily competitive Democratic Party presence in Arkansas.

For now, it may be enough — a start — to engage hostility at the door and turn it momentarily thoughtful, as Godfrey has sought on the divisive issue of abortion.

Our conversation included Godfrey’s tearful recollection of her miscarriage that influenced her thinking about keeping government out of a woman’s relationship with her unborn child.

That — an unborn child — is exactly what it was and is, she said.

From the moment she learned she was pregnant, maybe even from the point of conception, she sensed a certain and intimate relationship of mother-and-child, she said.

Godfrey, now mother of two born later, told me that she felt a Mother’s Day void that tragic year. It happened not simply because she had lost the baby. It was, she said, that no one else could possibly understand that she felt fully like any other mother — that she knew she was every bit a mother fully bonded to her forever-unborn child.

She told the story only because references to it came up three times otherwise in our conversation — mainly in the context that she had told it to pro-life voters she encountered going door-to-door in central Springdale as a Democratic candidate for state representative who was pro-choice, unpopular in long-solidly Republican Springdale.

Godfrey says she’s pro-choice to the extent that, while she doesn’t believe she could ever advise a young woman to get an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy, she couldn’t fathom, on the other hand, a government presuming to tell any young woman she couldn’t get an abortion no matter the circumstance.

It is a matter of a mother’s bond, not a politician’s dictate.

Godfrey told me she’d seen pro-life listeners in her door-to-door campaigning pause to consider her story and her point, and to be sensitized, at least for the moment. And she refuses to think abortion choice is a single-issue determinant against her.

As Godfrey figures it, she needs to change the minds of about 300 voters from two years ago in a district perhaps 40 percent Hispanic, thus a potential strength for her.

I’m not writing to suggest she’s going to win. I’m writing to chronicle the planting of seeds.

Dale Bumpers, David Pryor, Bill Clinton — all young once, all lawyers interested in electoral service, all election losers at one time or another.

There’s no shame in that. But there can be a future in it.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

Comments

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  • TimberTopper
    August 8, 2018 at 6 a.m.

    A good read, John.

  • PopMom
    August 8, 2018 at 6:08 a.m.

    How many times did Asa run for statewide office and lose? He ran for the Senate against Bumpers and against Bryant for Attorney General. Jared Henderson probably will lose, but he is gaining a statewide organization and name recognition which can help him in the future. It is good to see so many new young people getting involved. Clarke Tucker may not win either, but he is making the Republicans spend like crazy on the 2nd District which is paving the way for wins in Virginia, New Jersey, etc. God bless them all.

  • RBear
    August 8, 2018 at 7 a.m.

    AR Democrats like Henderson, Tucker, Godfrey, Desai, and Shamel have probably a greater love for this state than most Republicans. Desai told me he has been in all 30 counties of the district, more than Rick Crawford apparently who represents it today. He plans to continue to travel the district to understand what the needs of the district are that Crawford is ignoring.
    ...
    Henderson has painted a vision of opportunity for Arkansas at a time when economic growth in the state has all but stagnated while the rest of the nation grows. Henderson has innovative ideas about how to move the needle north, not south, when it comes to improving economic opportunity for Arkansans. The last great innovative idea I heard come from Asa was coding in schools, but apparently that was a continuance of something Beebe started. Other than that, Hutchinson is all about tax cuts and figuring out ways to take healthcare away from Arkansans through bureaucratic tricks.
    ...
    The future of Arkansas is in these Democrats who are looking at a better Arkansas, not one that's all about social issues.

  • GeneralMac
    August 8, 2018 at 9:06 a.m.

    PopMom says pro-abortion Clarke Tucker is making ........"Republicans spend like crazy on the 2nd District "

    I doubt Democrats even believe Clarke Tucker will win.

    Barack HUSSEIN Obama didn't even find Clarke Tucker worthy to be on his list of 81 candidates he endorses.

  • GeneralMac
    August 8, 2018 at 9:15 a.m.

    What is it with pro-abortion candidates who try to have it both ways by saying........" I , personally, am against abortion BUT........

    It is like a candidate saying......." I personally am against the death penalty, BUT........

    When taking a political stance on a controversial topic or in offering an apology, inserting the word "BUT" makes both worthless .

    Clarke Tucker and Godfrey are spineless !

  • Nodmcm
    August 8, 2018 at 9:30 a.m.

    Ninety-five percent of the African-Americans in America and Arkansas voted Democrat in 2012. Believe it or not, there are many white people who are compelled to always vote against the Democratic candidates supported by the vast majority of African-Americans. We will soon see if the millennials can break out of this pattern, if of course they choose to vote at all. Democrat Megan Godfrey needs those white millennials' votes, all of 'em. Let's see if she can get their votes, or if the historical pattern continues.

  • DoubleBlind
    August 8, 2018 at 9:47 a.m.

    If only abortion were retroactive so fake’s mom could have availed herself when she realized what she spawned.

  • GeneralMac
    August 8, 2018 at 10 a.m.

    DoubkeBlind........gays shouldn't be pro-abortion.

    When that detective gene causing homosexuality can be identified in the womb, pro-abortion liberal women will be aborting every homosexual baby.

    The only women willing to carry a homosexual baby to birth will be pro-life women.
    Pro-life women have a history of accepting whatever the baby is.
    Pro-abortion women do not.

    Be careful what you LGBT pro-abortion folks support.
    It will bite you homosexuals in the future !

  • GeneralMac
    August 8, 2018 at 10:18 a.m.

    How many pro-abortion liberal women,upon finding out the baby in the womb has Downs Syndrome, carry it to birth and raise it in their family ?

    I know many pro-life women who have done so.

    Be careful what you support, Double Blind !
    It's only a matter of time before nearly every defective gene can be detected in the baby in the womb.

  • DoubleBlind
    August 8, 2018 at 10:30 a.m.

    Fake - You’ve blown past the point where your pathological hatred of everyone is shocking and now it’s just embarrassing for you. If you aren’t already a patient at UAMS’s or CHI’s Alzheimer’s clinics, you should book an appointment right away.

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