OPINION | JOHN BRUMMETT: How will Sarah govern?

Our governor-elect is quite the mystery. What kind of governor are we are in for, anyway?

Arkansas elected Sarah Huckabee Sanders because she was the "R"--or not the "D"--as well as a Donald Trump acolyte, a Mike Huckabee daughter and someone not afraid to get sassy with hated national liberals and biased reporters.

But, beneath those overlapping and blurred brands, we must wonder. Is Sanders:

• A fully paid-for Trump property existing wholly in service to the commands of her owner's ego, or

• A Ron DeSantis imitator who wants to own the liberals and use the state-government platform to destroy any remnant of the '60s culture and stamp out any signal of the modern woke one, or

• A closet pragmatist who said resentfully incendiary things as a candidate, because that worked, but will govern pretty much as Asa Hutchinson governed--in a clear conservative spirit but with business-friendly and problem-solving calm, or

• A chip off the block of her pop who, as governor, said hyperbolically conservative things, but, when it came to something serious, could be counted on, once things were explained to him, to sign off on children's health insurance and propose a sales-tax increase to pay for court-ordered education reforms?

There was a time when I, faced with curiosities and gubernatorial contradictions maybe not as complex as these, could directly ask a governor, even Mike Huckabee depending on the day or hour, and certainly Bill Clinton in the early days and Mike Beebe from the first year through the eighth. And I could say, hey, tell me which it is so that I can put in the paper.

But I do not have Governor-elect Sanders' number.

I am left to speculation, but not wholly uninformed speculation.

It is that this is a different time and she is her own person. It is that she will seek to fashion her own gubernatorial persona, borrowing from all of those styles but being cloned from none.

Where Trump is concerned, there is sound reason to believe Sanders will govern as she has campaigned. That would mean not talking about the egomaniac unless necessary.

It would mean saying less than that the presidential election in 2020 was stolen from him. It would mean an essentially dishonest evasion than that we might never know the whole story of that election.

But it would mean subservience if it came to that, because money obligates.

As for DeSantis, he probably will be Sanders' closest governing model. He, after all, is about today, not yesterday. And, he, after all, won big in Florida last week when other Republicans were winning barely or not at all.

He pushed the law saying sexual orientation and gender identity shall not be talked about in school in the early grades. He pushed policies banning some math textbooks because they contained pieces of so-called social-emotional learning, which holds that kids can better learn if they understand themselves and learn how to get along with others and control their impulses.

Just teach 'em their times-tables and leave that other stuff to parents, the DeSantis position holds.

He contends that some history instruction in school makes America seem racist (and it has been racist and is still divided in that way), and shouldn't.

And DeSantis didn't kowtow to the corporate influence but took away Disney's self-governing authority when it resisted him on these education views.

But then there is the competing Asa pragmatism with which some try to credit Sanders, absent evidence thus far. Hutchinson didn't much like the combative DeSantis' style; often it proposed to solve problems that didn't exist, and thus distracted from legitimate business.

Hutchinson was so committed to modern economic growth for Arkansas that, when Walmart and Tyson warned him of national business-community pushback against non-inclusive policies, he took heed.

Florida can take an economic hit easier than Arkansas.

When Hutchinson got wind a legislator was about to put in a transgender bathroom bill, he mobilized forces to try to pre-empt any such filing. He knew it would pass if filed.

Will Sarah have a pragmatic side by which she draws an Asa-like line? I'm told she will, but that her lines will be more flexible than Asa's.

Finally, Sanders will be like her dad in that she is his loving and admiring daughter. But that may not be greatly evident in the governing.

Remember that Papa Huckabee was working with a Democratic Legislature. He had no choice but to give in at times.

Daughter Sarah has an 82-18 GOP majority in the House and a 29-6 advantage in the Senate. Those 112 rascals (82 House Republicans, 29 Senate Republicans and one Republican governor) can do whatever the hell they want.

How much champagne will they want to drink? That's what we're going to find out.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers' Hall of Fame. Email him at jbrummett@arkansasonline.com. Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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