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Today is primary day, meaning curiosities ought to be answered by bedtime.

Such as: What is that Jan Morgan thing all about?

Is it merely garden-variety extremism on the Republican right, netting the Gun Goddess something like the 27 percent that a fringe candidate named Curtis Coleman got against Asa Hutchinson for the Republican nomination four years ago?

Or is there a raging Trumpian cancer out there that has elevated over-simplicity and angry, inane bluster? Might it deliver Morgan toward or even north of 40 percent?

Speaking of extreme conservatism, what happens when an extreme cowboy conservative goes up against a Jason Rapert-like extremist in a Republican primary in one of the state's most conservative state Senate districts?

Sen. Bryan King of Prairie Grove, the cowboy conservative, decided not to run again. State Rep. Bob Ballinger of Hindsville, the Rapert type, filed for the seat. Then King changed his mind and decided to run after all. It's all more interesting than meaningful.

In Central Arkansas, will Clarke Tucker win the Democratic congressional nomination in the 2nd District without a runoff--getting more than 50 percent against three opponents? Will he thus make a champion's propulsion into a general election he seems destined to lose because Republicans will say what they always say and thus lock down their dominant majorities in Saline, Faulkner and White counties?

And what is it that they always say? It's five words: guns, abortion, Pelosi, Obama, Hillary. That is the limited but winning vocabulary of the contemporary Arkansas Republican political officeholder.

Or, might it be possible that these three other more-liberal Democratic congressional candidates--Gwen Combs, Paul Spencer and Jonathan Dunkley--are right that there is a hidden vote that will emerge tonight from new or non-regular voters motivated by an uncommon revulsion against Donald Trump, the cost of health insurance and growing economic inequality?

And is this really the year of the woman? Or will it turn out pretty much the way a canvasser indicated when I said the choice nowadays between two equal candidates, a man and a woman--such as exists in the Democratic primary in my state representative district--should be the woman? The canvasser said she'd heard that very thing from women, but that I was the first man to say it.

In other words, is the women's movement, at least in Arkansas, a matter of intensity in activism among already progressive women, but not anything that has significantly permeated the rest of the electorate or changed the political dynamic?

There is Tippi McCullough against Ross Noland for a state representative's position in my Little Rock neighborhood, as well as Andrew Collins versus Annie Depper for a farther-west representative's district in the capital city. Those four are largely indistinguishable on issues.

In downtown Fayetteville's liberal state representative district, the choice is between a veteran locally progressive male politician named Mark Kinion and an impressive woman newcomer, Nicole Clowney, a leader in the local women's uprising against unchecked gun violence.

Finally, there are three candidates for the Arkansas Supreme Court and the race could turn out by any of the available arrangements of the three. Any could finish first, second or third. I don't think any can top 50 percent and avoid a two-candidate runoff in November, but ... really ... who knows?

By ethical norms, judgeship candidates don't discuss issues. So, the prevailing dialogue is the outsider smear.

Right-winger David Sterling could lead the ticket because mystery out-of-state backers have aired expensive and bogus attack ads on the other two. If inertia holds, that will happen. Smears have consistently borne victory's fruit in recent statewide Supreme Court races.

The incumbent, Courtney Goodson, could lead the ticket because she is, after all, the incumbent, has "justice" before her name, and might have benefited from backlash against the attack ad against her, which she went to court to stop.

The third candidate, Kenneth Hixson, could lead the ticket because he is a competent judge on the Arkansas Court of Appeals who has solid establishment endorsements.

Poor Hixson stands accused by dark money of letting a rapist of a little girl go free, merely because he joined other appellate judges in a 5-to-1 ruling remanding the case for a new trial because a reversible error had been committed in the first go-round.

Judges must abide by the law, by fairness and by prescribed procedure without fear or favor.

Well, they're supposed to do that.

By the way, I voted with great confidence and pleasure for Clarke Tucker and Kenneth Hixson.

I'm not saying how I voted in my state representative race, because I don't have to, and there's no great difference in the candidates, and I feel no compelling reason to presume to endorse, and I don't want the candidate for whom I didn't vote to know.


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 05/22/2018

Print Headline: Primary curiosities

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  • RBear
    May 22, 2018 at 6:34 a.m.

    Agree with your selection, John. While not in the district, I'd add Noland because of his experience in policy making. To truly hold ground in a conservative AR legislature, you need a policy nerd which Noland is. I've seen it work in Austin when the TX House tipped to a supermajority with the likes of four amazing policy nerds from across TX, one in budget, one in parliamentary procedure, and two in legislative policy intricacies. Those four held lines against some pretty BSC legislation proposed by right-wing representatives.
    AR needs those same kind of folks to avoid complete insanity in the House. Noland definitely has the experience for that, as well as the strong interest in his district.

  • TimberTopper
    May 22, 2018 at 7:04 a.m.

    Good article, John. I will cast my ballot as I feel it is my civic duty a bit later this morning. It appears the deplorables and the rest of us lost another of our rights in the SCOTUS yesterday. However, maybe the deplorables feel business would never screw them out of money and benefits, so they'd never need the ability for class action. Besides, why not go up against business using the best arbitrator their money can buy. The Republicans are LTAO at those that keep voting against their own best interest. Like you said all it takes if the five words you stated, and the trap for a fool is set.

  • mozarky2
    May 22, 2018 at 8:27 a.m.

    The dims don't even have five words, just TrumpRussiaStormy, and that word stopped working months ago.
    And, yes, we'll hang Nanzi Pelosi around the dims' necks like an albacore. (That's another Archie Bunker malaprop, "progs", kinda like full nudal frontity). Any reason we shouldn't?
    And, once again, nobody will defeat French Hill. Even the ever-oblivious Brummett seems to be admitting that here.

  • GeneralMac
    May 22, 2018 at 9:54 a.m.

    My three are abortion, guns, ILLEGALS.

    That is (3) that the candidate must address favorably and it is (2) more than on liberal BOLTAR's litmus test.

    BOLTAR says gun contfrol is his litnus test.

    Single issue voters !

  • drs01
    May 22, 2018 at 10:11 a.m.

    voted early, but can no longer vote often (damn voter ID law), voted in the democrap primary so I could vote against a few of the candidates. I hope voters will wake up to the Clarke Tucker TV ad in which he proclaims "healthcare is a right". I'm concerned that too many will see that as "another democrat freebie is coming my way." And I believe that was its deceitful intent.

  • Packman
    May 22, 2018 at 10:47 a.m.

    Hey Brummett - Nah, you're wrong. It's the ECONOMY, stupid (Where have I heard that before?). R's will no doubt hang SanFranNan around the necks of D's but the real problem for D's is the success of the Trump tax cuts.
    As to local Arkansas politics little if anything has changed with the election of Donald Trump. What you are seeing is existing uber libs just being more uber. Just because 12 people make enough noise to sound like 16 doesn't change the fact it's only 12.

  • mozarky2
    May 22, 2018 at 11:01 a.m.

    Well, Packy, Nanzi DID say she'd repeal the tax wonder RB gets his panties in a twist when we mention her!

  • RBear
    May 22, 2018 at 11:34 a.m.

    I know the dumba**es of Pack and moz like to think CA-12 runs the country from a Democratic perspective, but that's far from the truth. Some things to consider, rising national debt, actual amount of tax cut for average Americans, rising gas prices, flat unemployment numbers, the hits just keep coming. Only the weak minded right-wingers live in the past. Most are moving to the future. I know that's hard for folks like Pack and moz to comprehend, much less analyze.
    Trust me, Pelosi means nothing to us now and hasn't in a LONG time.

  • mozarky2
    May 22, 2018 at 11:56 a.m.

    Well, RB, you DO have your panties in a twist right now, and Nanzi IS still the House Minority Leader, so I'm thinking you're badly mistaken if you think she means nothing. Wishing won't make it so, RB.
    And, she'll still be House Minority Leader in 2019.
    Explain that, you petulant little pipsqueak!
    I think it's hilarious, too, that President Trump has forced you "progs" to pretend to care about deficits and national security, as badly as I know it's just killing you all.

  • hah406
    May 22, 2018 at 12:02 p.m.

    Economy is good, a plus for Trump. Rising gas prices due to Trump's poorly thought out policies in the Mid East have more than eaten up the average benefit from the tax cut, a minus for Trump. The deficit is skyrocketing, despite the GOP saying that was a bad thing for the last eight years, a minus for Trump. Multiple investigations, multiple lawsuits, multiple guilty pleas and many more under indictment, a minus for Trump. You can bet the D's will hang the massive corruption of the Trump family and campaign around R's necks as well, to a much stronger effect than trying to compare Tucker with Pelosi.
    Congratulations on your wasted vote drs01. Many of us do believe that basic healthcare is a right. In fact, every country in the westernized world believes it is a right, and they are all healthier, live longer, and spend less than the U.S. does on healthcare.