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We told a colleague the other day, in the midst of endorsement season, that we've never seen so many outstanding candidates for office as we're seeing this year. No, really. Even some of the folks we didn't endorse over the last week impress no end. Sometimes we caught ourselves thinking, to heck with politics, we need more moms and dads and volunteers and coaches and preachers and neighbors like this. It says a lot about Arkansas' politics to see these people step forward. A lot of good.

Here are our recommendations in the Republican and Democratic primaries come May 22. It should be a proud moment for Arkansas:

For governor in the GOP primary, we recommend Asa Hutchinson. Of course. Has he had a misstep, or even a hiccup, in 3 1/2 years as governor? If so, we can't remember it.

He puts together a conservative budget year after year, the budget people are near giddy reporting surpluses, and he cuts taxes, all the while holding together Arkansas Works so the ledger doesn't go red and hospitals don't close. He hires the best people for leadership in state government, then goes out of his way to streamline the same leadership. The state of Arkansas has had a good run of governors lately, and Asa Hutchinson is just the latest.

He also has big plans for the future. Including more tax cuts, a long-term highway program, better high-speed broadband throughout the state. And why not continue creating thousands of jobs from the state's cities to our rural areas?

We see no need to change horses now. Arkansas is on a roll.

Kenneth Hixson for Supreme Court. He told us that most people around the state are frustrated with how political the state's top court has become. Yes, we've heard that, too. Which may be why the incumbent in this race has drawn so much opposition. In a year in which we've met so many impressive candidates, Kenneth Hixson may be the most impressive. And a lot of that has to do with his judicial philosophy: "Every Arkansan deserves a competent attorney and a fair judge. Then let the chips fall where they may."

After working as an attorney in the business world, Kenneth Hixson became Judge Hixson on the Court of Appeals in 2012, and he's very familiar with trial work. As a judge, he's decided thousands of cases and written hundreds of opinions. Oh, yes, on the side he's a professor at the U of A's law school. He's as qualified as they come. And would do Arkansans proud on the bench.

• In the Republican primary for the 4th Congressional District of Arkansas, we'd recommend the incumbent, Bruce Westerman. The congressman has his professional bona fides in order.

Bruce Westerman received the delegation's highest score from the American Conservative Union last year. He isn't afraid to cast votes against the president and his colleagues when they pass spending bills that blow out the budget. And he sponsored a bill to help veterans exposed to toxins during the Vietnam War. His voice is important when it comes to all things forestry, and why he leads with bills to help manage the nation's forests--instead of spending billions on fire-fighting every single year.

Let's not assume anything, Arkansas. Vote for Bruce Westerman in this primary.

• In the Democratic primary for the 2nd Congressional District (French Hill doesn't have a primary opponent) we'd recommend Clarke Tucker. And not just because he appears to be the choice of national Democrats with deep pockets.

He has a wonderful story, Clarke Tucker, and is familiar with politics and policies. His No. 1 issue may be health care, which figures, but he's been a state lawmaker for long enough to know a lot about many subjects. The voters come November would have a real choice between Mr. Tucker and the incumbent. And should.

• It seems the last few decades of Trevor Drown's life could have been job training for this position. For every responsibility the secretary of state has in Arkansas, Trevor Drown has that experience.

The secretary is responsible for Capitol security. Trevor Drown is a Green Beret. The secretary is responsible for making sure our elections in this state are on the up-and-up. State Rep. Trevor Drown so happens to be the chairman of the state House sub-committee on elections. With the Census coming up in a few years, the secretary of state, during this next term, will be partially responsible for redistricting. As a lawmaker, he's had firsthand experience with putting the pieces together. Or at least figuring out the rules.

"Overqualified" might be a problem in the world of cut-throat corporate doings. But in government, it's a welcome attraction to voters and taxpayers. In the GOP primary for secretary of state, Trevor Drown should be the choice.

• In the Democratic primary for state House District 35, we'd recommend Andrew Collins, a young up-and-comer who fits the Democrat party nicely, but ain't mad about it. It seems that, should he win this primary and again come November, he'd be the type of politician who could work with what surely will be a Republican majority for years to come. Even while serving his constituents, and his party.

• For sheriff of Pulaski County, the Democrats should put up Carl Minden, a 46-year-old major in the department who's been endorsed by the outgoing Doc Holladay.

Can there be an office or a jail cell or a center or a program that Carl Minden isn't familiar with? He currently runs Criminal Investigations for the county, and has commanded the Patrol District and supervised Training and Special Services. Oh, yes, he was commander of the Crisis Negotiation Unit, too. And organized the Citizens Police Academy. It's just as easy for him to talk about a stretch of road around Gravel Ridge as it is about the overcrowding at the county jail.

In this primary, we recommend Carl Minden. He's got this role down pat.

Editorial on 05/13/2018

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