Today is primary day, meaning curiosities ought to be answered by bedtime.
Such as: What is that Jan Morgan thing all about?
Is it merely garden-variety extremism on the Republican right, netting the Gun Goddess something like the 27 percent that a fringe candidate named Curtis Coleman got against Asa Hutchinson for the Republican nomination four years ago?
Or is there a raging Trumpian cancer out there that has elevated over-simplicity and angry, inane bluster? Might it deliver Morgan toward or even north of 40 percent?
Speaking of extreme conservatism, what happens when an extreme cowboy conservative goes up against a Jason Rapert-like extremist in a Republican primary in one of the state's most conservative state Senate districts?
Sen. Bryan King of Prairie Grove, the cowboy conservative, decided not to run again. State Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville, the Rapert type, filed for the seat. Then King changed his mind and decided to run after all. It's all more interesting than meaningful.
In Central Arkansas, will Clarke Tucker win the Democratic congressional nomination in the 2nd District without a runoff--getting more than 50 percent against three opponents? Will he thus make a champion's propulsion into a general election he seems destined to lose because Republicans will say what they always say and thus lock down their dominant majorities in Saline, Faulkner and White counties?
And what is it that they always say? It's five words: guns, abortion, Pelosi, Obama, Hillary. That is the limited but winning vocabulary of the contemporary Arkansas Republican political officeholder.
Or, might it be possible that these three other more-liberal Democratic congressional candidates--Gwen Combs, Paul Spencer and Jonathan Dunkley--are right that there is a hidden vote that will emerge tonight from new or non-regular voters motivated by an uncommon revulsion against Donald Trump, the cost of health insurance and growing economic inequality?
And is this really the year of the woman? Or will it turn out pretty much the way a canvasser indicated when I said the choice nowadays between two equal candidates, a man and a woman--such as exists in the Democratic primary in my state representative district--should be the woman? The canvasser said she'd heard that very thing from women, but that I was the first man to say it.
In other words, is the women's movement, at least in Arkansas, a matter of intensity in activism among already progressive women, but not anything that has significantly permeated the rest of the electorate or changed the political dynamic?
There is Tippi McCullough against Ross Noland for a state representative's position in my Little Rock neighborhood, as well as Andrew Collins versus Annie Depper for a farther-west representative's district in the capital city. Those four are largely indistinguishable on issues.
In downtown Fayetteville's liberal state representative district, the choice is between a veteran locally progressive male politician named Mark Kinion and an impressive woman newcomer, Nicole Clowney, a leader in the local women's uprising against unchecked gun violence.
Finally, there are three candidates for the Arkansas Supreme Court and the race could turn out by any of the available arrangements of the three. Any could finish first, second or third. I don't think any can top 50 percent and avoid a two-candidate runoff in November, but ... really ... who knows?
By ethical norms, judgeship candidates don't discuss issues. So, the prevailing dialogue is the outsider smear.
Right-winger David Sterling could lead the ticket because mystery out-of-state backers have aired expensive and bogus attack ads on the other two. If inertia holds, that will happen. Smears have consistently borne victory's fruit in recent statewide Supreme Court races.
The incumbent, Courtney Goodson, could lead the ticket because she is, after all, the incumbent, has "justice" before her name, and might have benefited from backlash against the attack ad against her, which she went to court to stop.
The third candidate, Kenneth Hixson, could lead the ticket because he is a competent judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals who has solid establishment endorsements.
Poor Hixson stands accused by dark money of letting a rapist of a little girl go free, merely because he joined other appellate judges in a 5-to-1 ruling remanding the case for a new trial because a reversible error had been committed in the first go-round.
Judges must abide by the law, by fairness and by prescribed procedure without fear or favor.
Well, they're supposed to do that.
By the way, I voted with great confidence and pleasure for Clarke Tucker and Kenneth Hixson.
I'm not saying how I voted in my state representative race, because I don't have to, and there's no great difference in the candidates, and I feel no compelling reason to presume to endorse, and I don't want the candidate for whom I didn't vote to know.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 05/22/2018
Print Headline: Primary curiosities