Today's Paper Search Latest stories Traffic #Gazette200 Drivetime Mahatma Digital Replica FAQs Weather Newsletters Most commented Obits Puzzles + Games Archive

There is only one ray of hope for applying a check and balance on Donald Trump in the last two years of his term.

It's for people like Clarke Tucker to run for Congress in districts like the one in Central Arkansas.

A Democratic House majority secured in November's midterm election would be akin to closing a freeway lane, thus requiring the speeding, weaving and horn-blowing tractor-trailer rig of a president to decelerate and merge.

By "people like" Tucker, I mean savvy young Democrats who are standout Harvard graduates and accomplished young lawyers from families of strong community heritage and longtime civic leadership.

Tucker's paternal grandfather, Everett Tucker, was a business leader and chairman of the Little Rock School Board who urged a moderate position of compliance with court orders on school integration in 1957. His father, Rett Tucker, is a leading downtown commercial real estate developer and civic advocate. His maternal grandfather, Roger Bost, was the first state director of Human Services on the appointment of then-Gov. Dale Bumpers after the reorganization of state government. His father-in-law is Scooter Register, the veteran high school football coach who has led teams at Little Rock McClellan, Little Rock Catholic and Little Rock Central.

This young man is veritably soaked in Little Rock.

I'm also thinking of the style and substance of a badly outnumbered Democratic state representative who, because he knew Medicaid expansion was the right and important thing to do, helped a Republican governor on a valiant scheme in 2016.

The plan was to finesse a couple of conservative votes by agreeing to the inclusion of special language in the appropriation bill for all Human Services spending that would end Medicaid expansion. The governor would then excise that special language by his line-item veto, permitting the program to continue under the funding authority of the rest of the bill.

When Gov. Asa Hutchinson appealed to the small House Democratic Caucus to support him on the scheme, pointing out that it was the only way to get Medicaid expansion done, Tucker said he might be able to come to agreement. But he asked if the governor would let him try to improve the special language to be vetoed to better guard against a lawsuit that might jeopardize Medicaid expansion.

Hutchinson said sure. Tucker's changes were incorporated into the measure. When the governor announced victory, he thanked Tucker for his sound legal help.

That's the kind of government I like--smart, competent and achieved cooperatively for the greater good by well-meaning persons of both parties.

By "districts like the one in Central Arkansas," I mean those in which Democrats conceivably could wrest seats from the Republicans in November toward gaining a House majority.


It's at best an outside shot for Democrats in the 2nd District of Central Arkansas. Pulaski County gives a Democrat a lead and a fighting chance if he can survive 75 percent rejection on the separate political planet a few miles down Interstate 30 in Saline County.

Tucker announced Monday that he will join the Democratic primary, which has two other worthy candidates already, for the right to take on U.S. Rep. French Hill in November.

He is as good an agent as the Democrats could hope for in the 2nd District.

I've had a few occasions over the last few months to talk briefly with him about navigating the locally reddened political landscape. I argued that, even if he got elected to Congress, his prize would be to travel weekly between his young family and Washington to bang his head against the wall as a lone rookie Democrat in a Congress beset with partisan institutions so embedded in petty division that a drone could do the job as well.

Tucker decided otherwise, because, as he told me, "This time seems different."

He says it's because of the important issues. But I suspect it's also Trump's manner--volatile, uninformed, imperious, and thus dangerous.

Hill is a mild-mannered banker in his second term who was thought to be more moderate than is evident in the Trumpian cloak in which he's tactically wrapped himself.

Tucker says health care will be one of his main issues, and that the Obamacare repeal bill in the House that Hill voted for--and that Trump first celebrated and later called "too mean"--will figure prominently in that discussion.

A few months ago, Tucker, 37, was diagnosed with bladder cancer. He is now cancer-free after surgery, but he must undergo quarterly screenings.

In some insurance policies, recurring cancer amounts to a pre-existing condition. The House bill that Hill voted for would have allowed states to seek waivers to veer from some of Obamacare's protections for pre-existing conditions.

That might explain one young man's perspective on how a race for Congress could be too important to leave with a drone.


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 02/06/2018

Print Headline: A reason to hope


Sponsor Content

You must be signed in to post comments


  • TimberTopper
    February 6, 2018 at 6:06 a.m.

    Tucker sounds like a man with a mission to help others in life. He'd be rare in DC, but surely needed.

  • Foghorn
    February 6, 2018 at 7:29 a.m.

    Where can I buy a Tucker yard sign? Two in fact: one for my yard and one for Hill’s.

  • mozarky2
    February 6, 2018 at 8:09 a.m.

    2016 election results:
    French Hill-58.3%
    Diane Curry-36.8%
    After the disgraceful display by dimocrats at SOTU a week ago, 2018 won't even be this close.

  • hah406
    February 6, 2018 at 8:23 a.m.

    mozarky, elections are like the brokerage advertisements: past performance is no guarantee of future results. Tucker is a strong candidate, and you are underestimating the Trump backlash in the 2nd district and nationally. There is at least a 60% chance that the House flips this November.

  • mozarky2
    February 6, 2018 at 8:55 a.m.

    Leading up to the midterms, the airwaves will be carpet bombed with ads displaying the disgraceful behavior of the dimocrats at SOTU, stone-faced as President Trump rattles off a laundry list that all Americans should applaud.
    GOP gains seats in House, 6-12 seats in Senate, in no small part due to a stupid, senile, and suicidal miscalculation by Shutdown Chuckie and Nanzi Pelosi.

  • TimberTopper
    February 6, 2018 at 9:47 a.m.

    mozzy, your selective memory has kicked in. You fail to remember that the Republicans did the same to Obama, with one shouting out that Obama was lying. You have a problem mozzy.
    A weak mind and one hell of a chip on your shoulder. Grow up and try to be a man. At present you act like that kid that you were hoping for a classification that would let you out of serving this country, that you got, just like Trump.

  • drs01
    February 6, 2018 at 10:47 a.m.

    JB is peeing down his leg with excitement. Finally, a blue blood, yellow dog traditional democrat from Little Rock's establishment community is running for Congress against French Hill. Previous attempts to win this seat have resulted in the defeat of a career politician NLR mayor, an African American teachers' union candidate, and an ultra-liberal state senator. Now comes a LR lawyer with establishment ties. That's two strikes against him.
    The Heights elitist and their friends could not overcome the 30,000 vote margin given to Hill by those "separate political planet" voters in Saline, Faulkner, White, and even some in Pulaski County. If JB continues his snobbish attack on these fine folks, then Congressman French Hill will win.

  • hah406
    February 6, 2018 at 11:10 a.m.

    mozarky, you are out of your mind with that prediction. SCOTUS just declared the gerrymandered districts in PA illegal, which is going to be at least 5 more seats to the Dems in the house. 35-plus GOP house members "retiring". They are running for the exits. And there is no way anyone picks up anywhere near six senate seats, much less 12. That is like a crack-smoking drunk prediction right there. The union needs to have you pee in a cup right now.

  • mozarky2
    February 6, 2018 at 11:20 a.m.

    I'm sticking with that, hah. AND, I'm willing to wager, unlike the hardcore unemployables RB and LimberLiar. And, also unlike those two, I'm clean. No test needed.
    Think for a moment the effect those ads are going to have. If you don't believe it now, you will come November. President Trump outsmarts Shutdown Chuckie and Nanzi Pelosi again! Dim party dies of a self-inflicted wound.

  • RBear
    February 6, 2018 at 11:41 a.m.

    moz, to start with you made a pretty uninformed character attack against me and TT. I might remind you that personal attacks can get the comment deleted. I know that doesn't sink in with you based on your other personal attacks, but you seem to get your kicks out of such. I would suggest the phrase "glass houses" in this case.
    But that doesn't explain your complete ignorance of politics. You suggest the RNC will blitz the airwaves with ads against Tucker. To start with, based on his credentials I don't think they have much to work with. But there's also the fact Hill is essentially a no-op in Congress and hasn't been Trump's biggest ally. In other words, I don't see the RNC wasting money in AR-2 when there are some bigger races like TX-23, a district that typically gets some of the largest funding in the nation.
    I know, you like to play as if you understand politics but in reality you're just a two-bit coal pitcher up in NW Arkansas and far out of this district to even understand the political dynamics. Brummett hit the nail on the head when it comes to how Tucker must win the district. Saline County has moved from a safe D to a safe R thanks to some wacko folks like Kim Hammer and Alan Clark. But it's not completely safe and a well staged campaign can overcome those problems.