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 email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 03/11/2018
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