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"No one ever asks me about Nancy Pelosi except the press," Clarke Tucker told me in a rare moment of mild frustration during his otherwise blissful romp through the Democratic congressional primary in the 2nd District.

Indeed, a bloodless march toward a party nomination against three ineffectual opponents is scant practice for the frustrations of a general election campaign in a district heavily seasoned with Republican hotbeds such as Saline County, and Faulkner, and on over toward White.

I suspect Tucker won't get asked much about Pelosi during his fall battle with U.S. Rep. French Hill, either.

He'll simply carry her on his back everywhere he goes.

No one will need to ask a thing. They'll see her on his back and recognize her and understand that it is the fate of an otherwise promising young Democrat in Arkansas to tote around this woman from San Francisco.

Tucker is the real deal in terms of skill, biography and message. He is a cancer survivor sensitized to pre-existing conditions--like cancer--which might or might not have been covered under a health-care bill that Hill voted for and which passed the House before the U.S. Senate perfunctorily and blessedly ditched it.

The ever-ridiculous president, Donald Trump, called that bill mean weeks after having celebrated its passage, with the happy Hill present, during a party he threw for his ego in the Rose Garden.

Democrats think Tucker might be able to win in this Republican-leading district if he could rack up in Democratic Pulaski County--as he might, owing to Democratic motivation--and if Republicans weren't so motivated this time, a midterm occasion requiring them to consider the un-scintillating presence of Hill absent the accompanying excitement of the ever-ridiculous Trump.

The simple problem with that--as a Democratic plan, or hope, or pipe dream--is that Hill and Republicans know it as well as Democrats do.

They'll do what it takes to motivate those Republicans. And what motivates them is fear.

And what they're deathly afraid of is an alien liberal from San Francisco named Pelosi.

It's like what the delightful Republican man told me the other day. He said, John, the young man, Clarke Tucker, is, I'm sure, a fine person and a good candidate who might even win a fair fight. But this isn't a fair fight--for him. All that the other guy (I had to provide the name, French Hill) needs to do is say that, if you vote for this nice young man right here, you're voting for Nancy Pelosi, not to be minority leader of the House, but to promote her to be speaker of the House. And it's over for the young man at that point, John, through no fault of his own.

The problem with that--for Tucker--is that the nice Republican man is telling the absolute truth.

If the supposed but suddenly a tad dubious "blue wave" materializes to the point that the 2nd District is in play, then, yes, that would mean that a Democratic retaking of the House, making Pelosi speaker, was in the offing.

Pelosi doesn't act like she's going anywhere. Maybe she shouldn't go anywhere. She is a spectacular fundraiser in the Democratic base. She is a tactically adept legislator.

Her downside is mostly geographic. It's that Republicans despise and fear her, and Republicans outnumber Democrats in flyover places like the 2nd Congressional District of Central Arkansas, where Clarke Tucker won't be able to get her off his back.

He already has cleverly said--and will continue to say--that he believes Washington is such a dysfunctional place that the town needs entirely new leadership everywhere. He may well choose to amend that in the general election campaign to become more specific--to say plainly that, if elected, he would not vote for Pelosi as party leader, whether in minority or majority status.

That won't matter. Pelosi would be re-elected speaker by the base. A nice supplemental seat picked up down in Arkansas would be spill-able gravy.

Pelosi would greet Tucker in the House by saying she understood that he'd be voting against her as speaker, and for him not to worry his young head about it, because she didn't need his vote and he had her blessing.

The good ol' Republican boys from Bryant to Greenbrier will know to expect that because the Republican Party will make sure they know to expect that.

If Pelosi leads the Democrats in the House and appears inclined to continue doing so, then a nice young Democratic congressional candidate in Arkansas is going to be severely up against it.

If Pelosi were to announce her retirement as leader in a smiling and willing way, and if she were replaced by someone who would hold the base but not yet scare the old boys from Bryant to Greenbrier ... then we might have ourselves the seed of a fair fight.


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 05/27/2018

Print Headline: An albatross named Nancy


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Archived Comments

  • mozarky2
    May 27, 2018 at 11:02 a.m.

    You "progs" own Nanzi Pelosi, and as she once said, "Embrace the suck"!
    You " progs" are going to be doing a lot of embracing for the foreseeable future.

  • drs01
    May 27, 2018 at 11:16 a.m.

    JB - you are spot on. A frail west Little Rock poster boy lawyer for the democrats will have a real struggle in the three counties that swamped the last two candidates. Also, I believe Hill will run stronger in Pulaski County against this white lawyer than he did against two African American females. Whether Tucker disavows Pelosi is no formula for success. If elected, he will have to go through her evilship to get anything he thinks he can do for us. Pelosi doesn't need Tucker or Arkansas. And we damn well don't need her.

  • PopMom
    May 27, 2018 at 11:35 a.m.

    We need to get Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to Arkansas to campaign for Clarke. He is a moderate with a military background and a good thick drawl. Congressman Charlie Crist from Florida (formerly the Republican Governor) should stop in as well. There is a moderate coalition of Democrats from all parts of the country. Also, Nancy Pelosi is not really from California; she is a native of Baltimore. I agree though that the time for her to retire is past due.

  • Packman
    May 27, 2018 at 11:38 a.m.

    The lack of enthusiasm among black voters in Arkansas and across the country for democrats is what will ultimately doom Clark and many other D's. There will be no blue wave although if history means anything the D's will probably re-take the House in the fall probably by a handful of seats. Watch for some blue dog Democrats to join Trump afterwards and make Nancy Pelosi's head explode.

  • PopMom
    May 27, 2018 at 11:39 a.m.


    Clarke doesn't really look frail. He looks fit. Arkansans tend to be a tad overweight. (i'm back on Fatwatchers and trying to lose 15.) Also, I don't know what cancer treatments he had, but they do tend to make you lose weight. My understanding is that he is 100% in remission, and he appears to be campaigning vigorously. French Hill doesn't look like he has much meat on him either.

  • mozarky2
    May 27, 2018 at 1:08 p.m.

    Listening to the "progs" on this forum, you'd think the only issues out there were Russia, Stormy, and impeachment. Go ahead and run on that, and I'd love to see your faces when the only people going to jail are a cabal of former FBI officials.
    President Trump will run on his economy, national security, and renewed optimism.
    Republicans pick up seats in the House, 6-12 seats in the Senate.
    Embrace the suck, "progs"!

  • RBear
    May 27, 2018 at 1:18 p.m.

    moz and yet not one of the right wingers have been able to even name some of Hill's accomplishments in Congress. I actually went through his record and came up with nothing of significance. 11 bills he authored in the 115th and only one, a no-brainer on LRCHS, becoming law. Many of his bills failed to even garner co-sponsors.
    You and others seem to think this race is about Pelosi which is why I call the Trump demographic so issue illiterate. You probably can't even name the issues your own congressman is pivotal on. Oh, and being a lapdog for the president isn't what Congress is all about. In fact, it basically means the person is drawing a substantial paycheck WITH benefits to just sit in a seat and do what a simpleton could do.

  • GeneralMac
    May 27, 2018 at 1:28 p.m.

    Surprised RBear even showed up.

    For weeks he has been bashing, ridiculing, insulting...ANYONE...who dare mention the "Pelosi factor"

    He would strongly deny there even was such a thing.

    Today John Brummett devotes his ...entire column the "Pelosi factor".

    But, RBear has been wrong on just about everything he rants about.

  • RBear
    May 27, 2018 at 2:10 p.m.

    Drinking again, I see Fake. Nope, just asking a simple question that no right winger seems to be able to answer. What significant accomplishments have we seen from Hill in Congress since he's been elected? I would hope right wingers could just rattle them off. I guess not. Oh, and voting to support Trump is not an accomplishment. As I said, a simpleton could do that.

  • GeneralMac
    May 27, 2018 at 2:27 p.m.

    No comment about the "Pelosi factor"?

    THAT is what Brummett's column is about today .