It sounded like big news, but wasn't.
We'd already known Donald Trump would soon reign over Arkansas through the outpost command of Sarah Sanders. And we'd already known that lieutenant governor was a default office of nothingness suitable for people willing to sit around waiting for something bad or good to happen to the governor.
Jim Guy Tucker was a lieutenant governor who became governor on account of Bill Clinton becoming president. Mike Huckabee was a lieutenant governor who became governor on account of Tucker sustaining a peripheral indictment from a Republican prosecutor investigating Clinton on the accused crime of being a Democrat who became president.
So, Leslie Rutledge might someday become governor because Sanders ... oh, I don't know. I shouldn't speculate.
Well, I'll speculate to this extent: Maybe Sanders would get reassigned by Trump from her outpost command in remote Arkansas to the central Washington staff when Democrats hand the White House back to him in 2024 and he needs a willing and experienced official falsifier.
What happened late Tuesday that sounded like news but wasn't was that Rutledge, after months of assuring us she was in the race to stay for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, never mind that Sanders would destroy her, did part of what I had consistently predicted. She dropped out of the governor's race, leaving Sanders with $11 million of national Trumpster money, or whatever is left of it, and no expenses.
There is a Democratic opponent yet to be disposed of, meaning, as I said, that Sanders has no expenses.
I had not specifically pondered that Rutledge would demonstrate a sufficient shortage of personal pride to say she'd take that lieutenant governor's office in that closet at the foot of the second-floor Capitol stairs. It is part-time, pays $46,000, and has no responsibilities except to preside formally over the state Senate and become governor should Trump call Sarah back to his side.
Let's quote Rutledge herself from months ago when someone suggested after Sanders' announcement that she, term-limited as a Trump insurrection legal advocate masquerading as our attorney general, might run for lieutenant governor, which Tim Griffin was vacating because he was term-limited there and polls showed his gubernatorial aspirations kaput because he trailed not only the juggernaut Trumpian celebrity that is Sanders, but, somehow, Rutledge also.
Griffin, to complete this musical-chairs narrative, dropped down to settle for being Trump's outpost lawyer under Sanders' command as attorney general.
Are we clear on all that? We have these three young Arkansas Republican politicians darting to their musical chairs--Sanders the throne-shaped one--while this vast god-like image with weird hair looms.
Anyway, here's what Rutledge said then about the office to which she defaults now: "After working a full-time job with a staff of 180 people, I'd be bored with a part-time job and a staff of two."
Thus the headline: "Bore me, Rutledge asks Arkansas voters."
I suspect the voters will oblige, though state Sen. Jason Rapert and former state Republican chairman Doyle Webb insist for now they'll stay in the race, just as Rutledge insisted she'd stay in the race she's not staying in.
Webb actually was hired months ago by Rutledge to handle partisan Republican redistricting interests in her supposedly public office, but she made him leave when he announced for lieutenant governor, that being altogether more ethically conflicted than even a Trump Republican could abide.
Webb had a pretty good line on Tuesday, which was that he was the candidate running for an office he actually respected and wanted to hold.
It was a good-enough shot at Rutledge although it raised the serious question as to what in the world Webb could possibly respect about the office. He should know better, having been one of the two or three employees of a Republican lieutenant governor--the late Win Rockefeller.
Rapert, who can be counted on for more dramatic pronouncement, responded to Rutledge's entry into his race by explaining that Sanders was magnificent and that he would be a lieutenant governor in service to her while, quite to the contrary, Rutledge had been going around for months talking bad about Sarah.
I don't know that she talked so bad about her. She just murmured privately, mostly, to wonder with frustration why Sarah didn't just go make a bunch of money on the Trump celebrity speaking circuit rather than bother with this little outpost command that Rutledge could have otherwise.
Now, Leslie says she'll be a Christian lieutenant governor--because Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists and Jewish people have been running amok in that office for too long--helping her dear friend Sarah fight the radical Democratic socialist woke cancel-culture what-not.
Maybe Sarah could assign Leslie to go around the state personally confiscating critical race theory textbooks weighting down all our little third-graders' backpacks.
Now there's an assignment for a nothing job.
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.