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We lack a good indication of what the voters of the 2nd Congressional District in Central Arkansas think of their four Democratic candidates and one incumbent Republican.

But we know that establishment Democrats in Washington prefer Clarke Tucker, the 37-year-old lawyer and state representative from Little Rock, as the winner of their primary. And now we have reason to suspect that establishment Republicans in Washington fear this same Tucker the most.

U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in Washington, extolled Tucker on Friday. He told reporters that the 37-year-old lawyer and state representative from Little Rock was the DCCC's preferred candidate in the four-person Democratic primary in the 2nd District of Arkansas.

The Tucker campaign did not comment. Not even a thank-you. Not so much as an indifferent "that's nice."

The young Little Rockian is smart and accomplished. That's why the DCCC is all over him as an opponent for Republican U.S. Rep. French Hill, even as Tucker faces three worthy local primary challengers back home where the voters are.

A smart and accomplished young politician knows better than to express delight that Washington Democratic insiders are trying to tell Central Arkansas voters to support him.

Tucker told the New York Times a couple of weeks ago--when the Times said without attribution that the DCCC had actively recruited Tucker--that he believed the public mood was to "throw the bums out" and that he would be emphasizing that theme.

Doesn't it risk making Tucker himself a "bum," so to speak, for the chairman of the DCCC to tell reporters in Washington that Washington Democrats want Tucker as the nominee from Central Arkansas?

I grasp the paradox, from personal experience.

From the day Tucker announced, I've practically endorsed him on the record of his life and career as well as from personal familiarity with his intelligence, decency and integrity. But I was properly shamed for patting the heads of the other three passionate, hardworking Democratic candidates who deserve fair consideration--Gwen Combs, organizer of the women's march in Little Rock; Paul Spencer, a civic advocate for ethics reform in politics; and Jonathan Dunkley, a Clinton School official whose name I couldn't seem to recall for the first couple of weeks of his candidacy even as he distinguished himself for unapologetic progressivism.

I am baffled by the DCCC's pre-emptive endorsement of Tucker, but not on merit or even fairness. I share the preference. And political parties may run their own nominating business as they please.

The Democratic National Committee and the state party impose primary-neutrality by chosen rule. But the DCCC, consisting of the elected Democratic congressmen themselves, may do as it wishes.

My recoiling is based on incompetent tactics. Raging anti-establishment fervor is steadily weakening both parties and probably makes now the worst time for a national party to try to influence a local primary.

Real political gains come from the people's passion, not the party's pre-ordained hierarchy.

Whatever difference national Democrats might make among garden-variety liberals in the local primary would be rendered irrelevant by November. That, rest assured, is when Republicans will rail in the Republican-overrun suburbs that Tucker got revealed in the primary as the poster boy for Nancy Pelosi (even though he says he'd vote for someone else to be speaker, because it's time for change).

In that regard, landline-answerers in the 2nd District report getting calls last week that initially sounded like a legitimate poll but turned out to be mere slime-spreading on Tucker. The unidentified "pollster" spouted standard national Republican attack lines disguised as questions, such as something like: Would you vote for Clarke Tucker if you knew he and Hillary Clinton were big pals?

National GOP support groups are the likeliest suspects, and they don't undertake such operations in the middle of Democratic primaries unless one of the Democratic candidates worries them particularly.

Tucker's three Democratic opponents don't have money for so-called "push polls." Anyway, they wouldn't be attacking Tucker for being a Democrat.

Through it all, Central Arkansas, not D.C., is the field of play. Local voters, not Democratic insiders, are the deciders.

In the 1990s in this same 2nd District, the local Democratic Party tended to favor a perfectly fine candidate who'd come up through its Young Democrat ranks--Mark Stodola, now mayor of Little Rock. But it turned out that a doctor with a law degree who was a Marine veteran of Vietnam and exuded personal integrity--Vic Snyder--was better at getting regular people to develop spontaneous admiration for him and vote for him.

To conclude, I happen to concur with national Democrats in their admiration of, and preference for, Tucker.

And I also happen to concur with Republicans in their apparent fear of Tucker as a general election opponent.

I love it when I can agree with both sides.


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

Editorial on 04/17/2018

Print Headline: To be admired and feared

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  • mozarky2
    April 17, 2018 at 8:09 a.m.

    I wonder how much money the DCCC will waste on this lost cause...

  • TimberTopper
    April 17, 2018 at 8:38 a.m.

    mozzy, you can bet not nearly as much as the RNC has paid in legal fees for Trump so far!

  • RobertBolt
    April 17, 2018 at 9:02 a.m.

    Bingo, TT. mozarky2 sees an algae bloom and calls it a red tsunami.

  • mozarky2
    April 17, 2018 at 9:06 a.m.

    Just how much HAS the RNC spent on President Trump's legal fees, TT?

  • RobertBolt
    April 17, 2018 at 9:19 a.m.

    Over $5.5 million last year.

  • Delta2
    April 17, 2018 at 9:24 a.m.

    Another reason to not donate to parties and PAC's, you have no control over how it gets spent.

  • mozarky2
    April 17, 2018 at 9:29 a.m.

    Yes, BLOWTARD, that's the figure I came up with.
    Can't understand why the RNC paid it, though. In a just world, it would be coming out of Robert Mueller's witch hunt budget.

  • drs01
    April 17, 2018 at 9:48 a.m.

    In Brummett's own words:In the 1990s in this same 2nd District, the local Democratic Party tended to favor a perfectly fine candidate who'd come up through its Young Democrat ranks--Mark Stodola, now mayor of Little Rock. But it turned out that a doctor with a law degree who was a Marine veteran of Vietnam and exuded personal integrity--Vic Snyder--was better at getting regular people to develop spontaneous admiration for him and vote for him.
    Tucker's political path is very much like Mark Stodola. A lawyer, career Democrat who has spent his time coming up the ranks. He's from a politically connected family with ties to the elite sector of Little Rock.
    Since the 1990's population growth has been stagnant in Pulaski county while the surrounding counties have double digit growth. And those folks vote. Look at the last two "politically connected" democrat candidates who ran against French Hill. While they can carry Pulaski county due to the yellow dog democrats living there, they got their ass handed to them in the counties where education, quality of life, and schools were their priorities.
    Democrats and wishful thinkers posting here had better pay attention.
    There is at least one of the democrat candidates that places people over party and his name is not TUCKER. He's not like Tucker who is looking to follow in the footsteps of other democrat who used a political office as a stepping stone to bigger and better. Sadly, he has little change of getting the nomination.

  • RobertBolt
    April 17, 2018 at 9:50 a.m.

    Unlike the religious persecution in Salem, Mueller's so-called witch hunt is revealing a coven of metaphorical witches, which brings into serious question the validity of the term witch hunt in this context.

  • GeneralMac
    April 17, 2018 at 10:08 a.m.

    .."Gwen Combs,organizer of the women's march in Little Rock "

    You mean that clown show that was meant to be a pro-abortion rally actually was "organized" ?

    The pro-abortion rally that got pictured in the Little Rock paper showing an old woman laughing hysterically about abortion and a dufus guy sucking on his fingers trying to whistle ?

    Gwen Combs should use that picture on her campaign posters with the statement....." see what I organized "