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Darkness descended over the state Tuesday afternoon. A gloomy rain fell.

That is a weather report. But it also functioned as a political forecast.

At 9 p.m., the lights went out—literally—on Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross as he was trying to deliver a poignant concession speech.

It was, of course, the too-easy metaphor.

This morning Arkansas Democrats have gone dark. They have one thing—Pulaski County, where all their candidates clobbered Republicans, from the top of the ticket to the bottom—but nothing else, not one seat in Congress, where they held five of six four years ago, and not one statewide constitutional office, where they held seven of seven four years ago.

Man alive: If you take Democrats’ big votes in Pulaski County out of the equation, the Republican victory was more than a rout. It was Secretariat at the Belmont.

Pulaski County is now surrounded by an alien land. Or maybe it’s the other way around.

And Arkansas Democrats have no foundation upon which to rebuild, no farm team to call up—nothing. The last descendants of the Pryor-Clinton era—literally, meaning David Pryor’s son and Bill Clinton’s long-ago campaign driver Mike Ross—got drubbed for U.S. Senate and governor.

At this writing they trail by about … well, 15 points. Not the four or five I predicted, or the 10 the cockiest Republicans predicted, but 15.

When Mark on Tuesday night called up his dad and mom—they of so many political glories past—it was positively … sad.

And let’s state the obvious: This is not Bill Clinton’s Arkansas anymore. He wasted his breath.

We elected to the U.S. Senate a right-wing zealot named Tom Cotton, who distinguished himself in a lone congressional term for voting against practically everything the federal government proposed for Arkansas or anybody else.

He voted against the farm bill. He voted against the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. And Arkansas rewarded him for making it hurt so good.

Cotton carried his extremist conservative stridence through to his victory speech, a defiant Koch brothers’ manifesto about the evil of government.

Meantime we elected a new governor in Asa Hutchinson who seems moderate because his granddaughter called him “Paw Paw” in a television commercial and because Cotton exists for comparison.

And we elected a new attorney general named Leslie Rutledge who was deemed unworthy of rehiring to a staff lawyer’s position in a state agency and who says she’ll use her status as the state’s chief legal officer to push back against the overreach of the federal government.

You know: Trying to protect the environment in order to combat climate change. Overreach like that.

I think the following is what Rutledge means: If we want to burn coal down here, then we will burn coal down here, by golly, no matter what the federal government says. It’s our business and our air, like our schools were our schools in 1957.

I think Rutledge also refers to pushing back against the overreach of Obamacare. But on a panel on which I sat at noon Tuesday at the downtown Little Rock Rotary Club, shortly before darkness descended, two Republican operatives said Republicans would likely keep Obamacare in Arkansas, because they’d need the money.

Well, they didn’t put it that way. They said Republicans would likely keep the private-option form of Medicaid expansion because it’s different from Obamacare. But it would not exist if Tom Cotton got his way in the Senate and repealed Obamacare altogether, as he prefers because, as he said Tuesday night in victory, a government that can give you everything can take everything away. So, you see, government should do little to nothing for anybody.

For all the extremeness of its collective electoral action Tuesday, Arkansas wasn’t so much different from the rest of the country.

At this writing it appears the Democrats lost at least five of their 55 seats—including the two independents who caucus with them—in the U.S. Senate and maybe as many as eight.

Barack Obama’s presidency is essentially over, unless some extraordinary circumstance forces him to act as one between now and January 2017.

P.S.—Was there any good news for Arkansas Democrats? Well, yes. Clarke Tucker defeated Stacy Hurst for a state representative’s seat in Little Rock. The editorialists thought Tucker a promising figure, but a bit young.

Actually, he was at Harvard with Cotton. They’re very nearly the same age.

John Brummett’s column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Email him at Read his blog at, or his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.


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Archived Comments

    November 5, 2014 at 5:57 a.m.

    Eat dirt Brummet. The voters of Arkansas have resoundingly rejected your beloved, corrupt Democrat party, with its morally bankrupt program.

    November 5, 2014 at 6:53 a.m.

    Nothing like a good and gracious winner. One can only hope that the arkteacher54 name does not really mean that he / she was an educator, or we have classes of students exposed to this classless thinking.

  • drs01
    November 5, 2014 at 6:57 a.m.

    I had a few seconds last night, watching on Channel 7, when I actually felt sorry for you. But then, I remembered all those op-ed you write, your pompous attitude, your name-dropping. It would have been great if Channel 7 could have had Bill Clinton on that panel last night. The two of you together in pain would have been delightful. Arkansas is not Clinton's home. I wish he would stay away. But then, too many republicans are counting on him. He puts the kiss of death on their opponents just like he's done all across America.

  • Rightside
    November 5, 2014 at 7:17 a.m.

    Arkansans rejected Obama Brummett big government knows better government. Racial politics and gender division didn’t work for the Dems nationwide. The people rejected liberal Obama policy across the country. President Obama said his policy's were on the ballot and the people renounced them.

  • Capitalist12
    November 5, 2014 at 7:20 a.m.

    President Obama has singled handedly destroyed the Democrat Party across the land, and Arkansas is no exception. Reid, Pelosi, and Obama's radical leftist agenda is not what most people want. When Obama got into the office,
    Arkansas had 2 Democrat Senators; now both are Republican.
    Three out of four House Representatives were Democrat; now they all four Republican.
    There was a Democrat governor then and Republican Governor now.
    Arkansas Senate and House were Democrat majority then and Republican majority now.
    The people did not listen to our impeached former president Clinton, Billionaire Bloomberg, or the rest of the radicals. Will the Democrats listen this time to Arkansans or will they allow the radical left of their party from out of state to dictate the terms to them? Time will tell.
    The radical left in charge of the Democrat Party and their leader Rep Pelosi refused to work with the Republicans. So Republicans gained control of the House. Senator Reid refused to compromise with Senate Republicans, even changing the rules of filibuster for all federal judges to a simple majority confirmation, except for Supreme Court nominees only. Obamacare passed without one Republican vote. No compromise by Democrats as they ran through the most unpopular measure in this administration.
    Even former President Clinton could not get Democrats to compromise. Will this president finally listen to the loud voice of the American people who have resoundingly spoken or will he continue to ignore us as his poll numbers drop even further?

  • AdodiBro
    November 5, 2014 at 7:24 a.m.

    Well, in spite of what has happened, God is "still in control".

  • drs01
    November 5, 2014 at 7:24 a.m.

    arttopcat: there was nothing that resembled class in the races I watched. So much distortion, damn lies. No honor. Give folks a break and come down off your "holier than thou" attitude.

  • FreeSpiritMan
    November 5, 2014 at 8:02 a.m.

    Thank GOD for the filibuster!

  • TigerInArk
    November 5, 2014 at 8:02 a.m.

    John: when do you think Pryor knew he was dead in the water? Before or after the Arkansas Poll last week? Same for Ross?

  • FreeSpiritMan
    November 5, 2014 at 8:03 a.m.

    Obama did not destroy the democrat party, the sermon of fear did.