There is this woman named Jan Morgan who calls herself the "gun goddess" and comes across as a mix of Tommy Robinson, Sarah Palin and Janet Huckabee.
She is fiery and sassy and, most importantly, media-savvy. She worked in local television news before opening a firing range and gun-use training center in Hot Springs.
She has emerged as something of a national firebrand for the notion that the Second Amendment means any kind of gun, anywhere, anytime, and nothing less. I found a tweet from her--actually, somebody sent the screenshot to me--declaring the National Rifle Association too compromising.
Several months ago, she declared The Gun Cave, as she calls her business, a Muslim-free zone. It's because, she says, a real Muslim who lives by the letter of the Koran would turn his gun away from the practice target and onto the fine gun-wielding Americans he considers murder-worthy heathens.
How Jan can identify inner faith by a once-over at the door--on that I'm not sure. Perhaps she has a special religion sensor. Perhaps if I walked to her Gun Cave door, she'd give me a quick up and down and say, "backslid Church of Christ, come on in."
At her website, janmorganmedia.com, there is a picture of her--among many others--in fatigue shorts and boots holding sophisticated weaponry. The site provides videos of her frequent gun-fetish appearances on Fox News and Fox Business. She also shares news of her many speaking appearances at gun rallies and alt-right gatherings nationwide.
She campaigned for Roy Moore in his Republican senatorial bid in Alabama. She endorsed Ted Cruz for president, then withdrew the endorsement because Cruz had gone all GOP establishment on her.
Last winter she hung out occasionally at the state legislative session to support state Rep. Charlie Collins' bill to allow concealed weapons on college campuses.
She became hostile to Gov. Asa Hutchinson's penchant for tinkering with the bill, such as insisting that persons carrying concealed weapons on college campuses take supplemental State Police training.
One day, testifying to a House committee in opposition to an amendment to allow colleges to designate areas on campus where students couldn't take their guns, she hauled off and let wusses like Asa have it.
She told committee members that Asa might have their backs in the Capitol, but that, by danged, he wouldn't have their backs across Arkansas, where she'd make life miserable for them if they didn't quit trying to put girly-man amendments on these gun bills.
House Speaker Jeremy Gillam interrupted to say the witness should not be permitted to threaten members in that way, which permitted Morgan to deliver with flair those coveted and priceless departing words, which were that she wasn't making a threat but a promise.
The House records on video its committee hearings. Morgan's appearance has gone viral, making her famous in the insular far-right online culture.
Last week she went on Facebook to announce she was forming an exploratory committee to ponder a Republican primary challenge to Hutchinson. She supplemented her gun theme with data accusing Hutchinson of being a big-government liberal.
The data appeared to have been compiled in a largely misrepresentative fashion by a hard-right group based in Northwest Arkansas called Conduit for Action. It's an outfit that thinks the Koch brothers' political advocacy groups in Arkansas are too obliging.
That night, Morgan formally announced her exploratory committee in a national TV appearance with Lou Dobbs--because, anymore, Arkansas politics is not based in Arkansas, or on Arkansas, but on nationalized right-wing extremism.
Is Morgan's potential candidacy part of Steve Bannon's national campaign to mount primary opposition to establishment Republicans from the populist right? I can't say, though it surely sounds like it.
I made attempts to get on the phone with Morgan. I received an email from her saying she was busy as all get-out but was promising she would call me the next day.
She didn't. A political consultant instead emailed to say they'd circle back to me some other time.
I don't blame her for not talking to me, but she probably shouldn't promise to do so and then not, lest she begins to resemble a regular establishment politician.
She is a force of personality who will appeal in Arkansas, both by tough style and as an agent of an angry insurgence on the extreme right that finds the pragmatism of Hutchinson a despicable betrayal.
I'm not saying she would beat Hutchinson. But I am saying that this idea I heard that the Democrats might cross over to the Republican primary to vote for her--to take out Hutchinson and give themselves a marginalized general-election opponent--would be one of the most colossally boneheaded misplays in Arkansas political history.
With Tommy Robinson's tall talk and Sarah Palin's telegenic defiance and Janet Huckabee's tomboy chip on the shoulder, Morgan would likely leave any Arkansas Democrat in the rural dust.
John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, was inducted into the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame in 2014. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 10/15/2017
Print Headline: Gunning for her shot