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Oh, no, not those--not impeccable credentials, not a record of excellence fitting the job description.

Those are such pre-Trumpian notions.

The issue in the Democratic primary for Congress from the Second District, suddenly an interesting race, is whether now is the worst time to run as the perfect candidate.

Only one of the candidates proposes to move into federal legislative service based on performing as the single best legislator in the Arkansas General Assembly.

Yes, I fear I'm going to do it again--appear to pat the heads of Paul Spencer, Gwen Combs and now a fourth worthy combatant, Jonathan Dunkley.

At risk of hateful missives from the fired-up left and the compelling women's movement, I hereby present a second installment extending special extolling to the other Second District Democratic candidate, state Rep. Clarke Tucker of Little Rock.

Yes, Clarke Tucker is the best member of the state Legislature, even toiling as he must from the abysmal minority in a state gone red-simple.

There's a new law Gov. Asa Hutchinson is falling over himself to brag about. It establishes four regional crisis centers to detain persons causing public disturbances from mental illness. Previously there hadn't been much the police could do with or for these persons who are not criminal, but ill, and who might be urinating in public or running nude through the neighborhood.

That was Tucker's issue.

Republican leaders brought in their own sponsor out of concern that the Republican Legislature might not pass such a major piece of legislation--one of the two or three most significant of the session--if it was the lone work of a Democrat from the liberal wards of Little Rock. But it was absolutely Tucker's issue, stemming from a task force he headed.

When the governor was scheming to get a vital vote for Medicaid expansion by putting language into the bill abolishing Medicaid expansion that he would remove by line-item veto--thus allowing the silly Sen. Bart Hester to make a lame claim that he'd voted to do away with Medicaid expansion--it was Tucker, Harvard-trained and a law review editor, who improved the technical language to make the finesse less susceptible to legal challenge.

One needn't win every fight to qualify as a good legislator. Tucker's arduous effort to require disclosures by outside groups spending unregulated money for electioneering was made no less admirable by the fact that Republican legislators were never going to let their big secret donors get found out.

Here, though, is anecdotal indication of complications potentially arising for Tucker: Democratic congressional hopefuls with outright or implied establishment or insider backing did not fare so well Tuesday in Texas primaries. The raging mood is not merely anti-incumbent, but anti-politician. If the political class likes and promotes you, then you bear a burden.

A woman in Conway, a dear woman of my long and happy acquaintance, emailed to say she'd gone out the night before to hear Paul Spencer, mainly out of curiosity. She said she'd become so inspired by his decency and post-Clinton style that she wrote him a $200 check from her Easter dress savings.

She found impressive that the Catholic High government teacher exuded honesty, conviction and command of history and policy--that he could quote Teddy Roosevelt and C.S. Lewis. She was moved that he expressed well his personal aversion to abortion but his practical public policy position that we have nothing workable or fair or safe to put in place of Roe v. Wade and that Planned Parenthood must receive Medicaid funding for the wide array of lifesaving medical services it provides poor women.

She told me she hoped she hadn't made a mistake. I replied that of course she hadn't. Spencer is a principled man and good candidate. But I said I wished she'd listen also to Tucker, even as I suspected she had money only for one Easter dress.

She--and I--must listen to all four candidates. Of course.

I did Tucker no favor in a recent column telling of the prominence of his grandfathers, Everett Tucker and Roger Bost, and dad, Rett Tucker.

People didn't read from that a legacy of devotion to civic duty, but a bloodline that was blue.

But it was not grandpa or dad who made Tucker the best member of the Arkansas General Assembly. He achieved that his own self.

Law school classmates of Tucker say they had no idea of his lineage until they read that column--that they'd liked and admired him for himself.

Being from the Heights section of Little Rock is probably not what landed Tucker the student presidency of the Kennedy School of Government's Institute of Politics at Harvard.

Paul Spencer, Gwen Combs, Jonathan Dunkley--good candidates all, worthy of anybody's Easter-dress stash. But don't hold against the other competitor the civic responsibility of his family and the perfection of his candidacy.


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 03/11/2018

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  • RBear
    March 11, 2018 at 7:41 a.m.

    Yea, I can see the the hardcore progressives coming out again on this one but it's to be expected. They are passionate for their candidates and they should be. The points you bring out are current creds and Tucker has those. I always tell candidates who reach for the big prizes they need to move some big rocks before I'll consider them for the big offices and the 2nd Congressional is a big office.
    I like seeing the broad field in the race because it drives dialogue and helps bring out the issues. Let's hope Tucker makes every debate and public forum with the other candidates. That's what irks me the most about the frontrunners. They ditch the public forums, afraid to be challenged on their positions and making press. If you don't do it in the primary, you won't be prepared for the general.
    So, good you have an opinion. Yes, it does seem a bit early but it's your column, not mine. I'm reserving my pick until I've seen a few debates and forums and met a few of them. I missed the Tucker kickoff because of the monsoon that day, but hopefully will catch him at another event.

  • PopMom
    March 11, 2018 at 9:18 a.m.

    I am for Tucker because he has the experience in the legislature. However, I will support any of the four candidates who wins the primary because is is time for French Hill to go. The sins of the Republicans in Congress are many, but the worst is that many of them have looked the other way while Trump curries favor with an evil dictator who interferes with our elections. It's time to kick that rascal out.

  • Rightside
    March 11, 2018 at 10:53 a.m.

    To PopulistMom:
    "Former President Barack Obama's cyber response team reportedly wanted to strike back hard at Russia when they first learned of its election meddling in the summer of 2016.
    But as they began floating options on how to respond, then-national security adviser Susan Rice allegedly told them to stand down and "knock it off."
    The Washington Post reported that when they were faced with the question of how best to respond to Russia's meddling, one senior official told the outlet, "I feel like we sort of choked."
    It was Obama folks who curries favor with an evil dictator..

  • notbot
    March 11, 2018 at 11 a.m.

    I am for Spencer. He states his positions via town halls and doesn’t pander to corporate donors. We need his courage and change to represent the 90% of us.
    Brummet will drag us down old party road forever.

  • TimberTopper
    March 11, 2018 at 11:07 a.m.

    rightside, I see you got your instruction from the Russian bot machine, and you comment as a true Russian Troll would do. That whole situation has been thoroughly gone over and your take on it is not the correct or true situation. But at least you got the Russian message out there.

  • mozarky2
    March 11, 2018 at 5 p.m.

    The dims are running on a platform of increasing taxes, throwing our borders wide open, hatred of white people, hatred of men, hatred of the working class, and an undying devotion to the gender-confused.
    It matters not who wins the dim primary, he'll get his azz handed to him by French Hill.
    GOP picks up seats in the House, 6-12 seats in the Senate.
    And, the Trump Miracle carries the president to a landslide win in 2020.

  • RBear
    March 11, 2018 at 5:37 p.m.

    Ah, the altered reality of moz. Of course, he'll make the claim that nothing he says is wrong. When I look through is list, I notice it's about a party that's looking out for those in the minority. One thing he does miss is the point about the working class. It is Democrats who focus on job retraining, something he should consider as coal is quickly becoming a fossil fuel on the outs. Another thing is that under Obama border crossings dropped and deportation of felon illegal immigrants increased. Under Obama, a tax cut was passed.
    But, of course facts always seem to escape the Trump demographic. They have a hard time keeping up with just their own party and idiotic president.

  • mozarky2
    March 11, 2018 at 7:17 p.m.

    Coal will be around for a long time, RB. It will be phased out eventually, and that's a good thing. My employer has a combined-cycle plant that generates the same amount of megawatts as the plant I work in, with a fraction of the carbon footprint.
    And, RB, you NEVER point out any untruths in my posts.
    Yes, of course dims concentrate on job retraining; training people for low paying, part time, minimum wage jobs that occur when dims put high paying industrial jobs out of business.
    The Trump Miracle is concentrated on job RETAINING, and jobs REMAINING, and right now, jobs REGAINING.
    Stuff your lies where you keep your plastic Obama emotional support doll, you lying sack of Schiff!

  • mozarky2
    March 11, 2018 at 7:59 p.m.

    Oh, yeah, RB, here's a time line of the NK cave to the Trump Miracle:
    2009: ignoring N Korea is working
    2010: " "
    2011: " "
    2012: " "
    2013: underground test of 10 kiloton bomb
    2014: ignoring is working
    2015: " "
    2016: underground test of 25 kiloton bomb
    2018: Disarmament meeting
    ALL Trump, ALL the time!
    BTW, it's official-Trump's campaign slogan for 2020 is-wait for it-Keep America Great!
    I'll explain that to you imbecilic "progs". Now that President Trump has made America great again, he plans on keeping it great!
    Welcome to Oblivion, "progs"!

  • RBear
    March 11, 2018 at 8:16 p.m.

    moz NK moved on from the nuclear tests as they pretty much have the technology mastered. The issue they are faced with now is delivering nuclear warheads which involves the testing. The fact you completely missed those points shows how issue illiterate you and the demographic are. I guess your right wing blogs missed those points also. So, how about adding missile tests to your timeline and tell me what Trump has done about those. What worries defense experts more is the ability to deliver the warheads. When NK can actually do so successfully, then things really change. SMH.
    Sometimes I wonder if you actually research or just parrot some dumb idiot on the right, which would explain a LOT.