Little Rock Nine mentor Daisy Gatson Bates is the first choice of state senators to represent Arkansas on one of two statues in the U.S. Capitol.
Their second choice is musician Johnny Cash.
Each state is allowed to display two statues in the U.S. Capitol. Arkansas' statues are of the late attorney Uriah M. Rose and the late U.S. Sen. and Gov. James P. Clarke. Those statues have been there for roughly 100 years.
About two dozen of the Senate's 35 members spent an hour in the chamber Wednesday afternoon listening to pitches from six of their colleagues for other candidates for the state's statues. They then voted on paper on their first and second choices.
Beyond Bates and Cash, other nominees were: former Lt. Gov. Maurice "Footsie" Britt; former U.S. Sen. Hattie Wyatt Caraway; musician James C. Morris, better known as Jimmy Driftwood; Navy SEAL Adam Brown; former state lawmakers William Henry Grey and James T. White; and comedians Norris Goff and Chester Lauck, better known by their act as "Lum and Abner."
The senators' nonbinding selection of their two top choices came a week after legislation that would replace the statues of Rose and Clarke with those of Bates and Cash failed to clear the state Senate Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee for the second time in six days.
That legislation is Senate Bill 75 by Sen. David Wallace, R-Leachville.
On Monday, Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, filed a competing bill -- Senate Bill 225 -- that proposed statues of Caraway and Driftwood.
And Sen. Bart Hester, R-Cave Springs, has been considering filing a bill calling for statues of Bates and Brown.
"We had several bills, some of them have the same people, and it was putting the committee in an awkward position about maybe we want one off this bill and one off that bill," Senate President Pro Tempore Jim Hendren, R-Sulphur Springs, told reporters afterward.
"Part of that was because there was a lot of disagreement about what the will of the majority of the Senate was," he said. "It goes through the normal committee process. It still has to come [before the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee] and then we'll see what occurs and then the House has to weigh in.
"I think it is far from settled," Hendren said. "It is like a lot of things. This is the first step. The State Agencies Committee may decide they want to do something different. There may be a successful amendment on the floor by somebody else. The House may amend it down there to put their preferences in place of one of those, so this is just the beginning."
Hester said, "Even though I would rather have picked Adam Brown, we have got two good choices here," referring to Bates and Cash.
"I feel like I made as good a case for Adam Brown, and I think our colleagues certainly respected that. But I am not going to file my bill at this time," he told reporters. "I would say if we have learned anything the House has a mind of its own and when we get this out, we'll see what they have to say."
A Section on 02/07/2019
Print Headline: Daisy Gatson Bates, Johnny Cash top choices for Arkansas statues at U.S. Capitol