"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 email@example.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.
Editorial on 05/27/2018
Print Headline: An albatross named Nancy