[For explanation of the post title, see this.]
Everyone loves a little rumormongering. (It’s the most popular -mongering around, narrowly edging out fishmongering and warmongering.) So, for your Friday enjoyment, I thought I’d run down the various candidacy rumors that are floating around for the 2014 elections. Where it matters, and where I know anything worth repeating, I’ll even throw in a little analysis.
UPDATE: It appears that turncoat State Rep. Linda Collins-Smith is considering a run for AR-01 as a primary challenge to Rep. Rick Crawford. That’s just . . . something. Collins-Smith is objectively underwhelming and terrible, so I can’t imagine that she’d fare that well against Crawford, but Crawford has alienated a certain percentage of his Tea Party followers, so who the hell knows what the crazies are gonna do on a given day?
The biggest rumor floating around Democratic circles is that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is planning on running against Rick Crawford in AR-01. On the surface, it makes sense; McDaniel’s strong Jonesboro ties would make funding the race easy, and he can say, “hey, the affair made it impossible for me to run a statewide race, but the people of AR-01 know me and know what I am about.” I’d be all for it, too. Sadly, I hear from people who know these things that the rumor is nothing but wishful thinking, and McDaniel has no plans to run for AR-01 or anything else in 2014.
The second-most mentioned name in AR-01 seems to be State Sen. Keith Ingram. (Ingram was also rumored to be looking at Governor once McDaniel dropped out.) It wouldn’t shock me if there was some truth to this, nor would it really get me particularly interested in the race.
Four other names floated out there by various people: UPDATE: Apparently, according to readers, Wright has opted out of a potential AR-01 run. State Rep. Marshall Wright (I wouldn’t mind getting him out of the State House, honestly, as he’s no friend to trial attorneys), attorney Zac White (my personal favorite choice if McDaniel isn’t running in this race, though reports are now that he is looking at an AG run), former AR-01 candidate Ben Ponder (not a terrible choice), U.S. Attorney Christopher Thyer (a stronger candidate than I think many people realize), and Mid-South Community College President Dr. Glen Fenter.
No word yet on whether Green Party candidate Ken Adler will make a run at this seat again.
If you can come up with a reason why the Democrats seem unable to get anyone with a chance to run against Timmy! Griffin, I’d like to hear it. In 2012, it looked like Griffin would run unopposed until the 11th-hour entry by Herb Rule. Which…yeah. This time around, there’s still a giant sucking sound from the vacuum where a Democratic challenger should be. The name I’ve heard most often is term-limited State Rep. John Edwards, which would be a very strong play by the Dems. Edwards’ fundraising base in Little Rock, plus his military background (he outranks Griffin, Colonel to Major), plus the slightly blue lean of the district in general would make Edwards formidable if he ran an aggressive campaign.
Other names being mentioned: State Sen. David Johnson (I hear he’s not interested, but I wish he was), Bill Halter (no way; if he was going to switch races, he would have done it when Brummett’s reporting opened that window in April), Conway mayor Tab Townsell (whatever), Interim Director of Higher Education Shane Broadway (meh), and former State Rep. Linda Tyler (oh, god no).
Some Democrat will get in that race. It won’t matter.
Assuming Rep. Tom Cotton takes his Traveling Stupidity Revival to a U.S. Senate race against Sen. Mark Pryor, the list of Republicans looking at the AR-04 seat is headed up by current Lt. Gov. Mark Darr. Whether the various stories about Darr that refuse to go away are enough to derail this candidacy is a story for a different day, I think. Other Republicans being mentioned are House Majority Leader Rep. Bruce Westerman, who will find a way to mention that he played football at Arkansas or that he went to Yale (grad school) in roughly 100% of his campaign speeches; State Rep. Matthew Shepherd, who is far less known than the previous names; and probably Beth Anne Rankin, who still considers herself not a joke.
UPDATE: A couple readers have informed me that Maloch has said he’s not looking at Congress. On the Democratic side, State Rep. Bruce Maloch has been mentioned quite a bit, apparently because people are looking for the most Mike Ross-like candidate to tout in that district. I suppose it would be foolish to write Maloch off if he runs, especially given the underwhelming slate of potential Republicans, but I still kind of want to. Other rumored Dems: State Rep. Jeff Wardlaw (fairly solid choice, especially compared to Maloch), former State Rep. Leslee Milam Post (who is also rumored for another race, discussed below, which I think is a better fit for her), and State Senator Bobby Pierce (whose most recent run of proposed legislation shows a strong preference for landowners’ rights).
I assume, without asking anyone, that past candidate Josh Drake will run for the Green Party.
I seriously doubt you get anymore D or R candidates in this race. I wish Curtis Coleman was still just a rumored candidate so I could make some jokes about his chances, but c’est la vie.
There will likely be a Green candidate, though whether that will again be Jim Lendall or will be someone else is still way up in the air.
Assuming Mark Darr is eyeing AR-04, it sounds like every Republican legislator in the state (except for Mena’s Embarrassment) is “considering” a run for this post. The leading name is Sen. Jason Rapert, which would be great, if only so he wouldn’t be spreading his stinky Eau de Hatred in the legislature anymore; my gut feeling is that Rapert will realize how meaningless the Lt. Gov. job is (unless you are trying to questionably usurp the Governor’s power while he’s out of state) and will stick in the Senate. UPDATE: Jason informs me that, much to humanity’s chagrin, he’s decided to stay in the Senate. Someone emailed me the other day to say that State Rep. David Meeks was considering a run for Lt. Gov., which is so hilariously crazy, I just had to repeat it here.
For the Democrats, I’d be pretty shocked if anyone bothered to jump in now that John Burkhalter is in and has his wagon firmly hitched to Mike Ross‘s campaign. Dianne Curry jumped into the race around the same time as Burkhalter, but that’s just not gonna amount to a whole lot unfortunately.
There are two Republicans already in: Leslie Rutledge and David Sterling. My money is on Rutledge in that tilt. State Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson could throw a wrench into things if he ultimately decides to run for this post as is being speculated.
Somewhat surprisingly (and depressingly), no Democrats have stepped forward yet. Rumored names include State Rep. John Edwards (if he doesn’t run for AR-02, obviously), State Sen. David Johnson (who is said to be not interested at all), State Rep. Nate Steel (a solid choice that I would totally get behind) (UPDATE:This is apparently a fait accompli), and State Rep. Darrin Williams (intriguing, but a much longer shot than anyone seems to acknowledge). UPDATE: Former BHRian Jeff Woodmansee reports that Heber Springs attorney and former State Senate candidate Zac White is also considering an AG run and will make a decision this week.
AR-Sec. of State
About a year ago, it was rumored that certain Republican powers were considering backing someone — anyone! — to mount a primary challenge against Sec. of State Mark Martin, simply because many in the party were sick of how much of an embarrassment Martin had become. Sadly, those rumors have died down.
On the Democratic side, the only name in the race so far is Susan Inman, who would be a great Sec. of State but, from what I hear, might have problems raising enough money to really make a run that can battle Martin as an incumbent and as a name. There’s a chance that president of the Northwest Arkansas Council Mike Malone might get into this race as well.
In the race to replace the disgraced Martha Shoffner (D-Baked Goods), perhaps the funniest rumor is that Doug Matayo is going to leave his post as #2 at the Secretary of State’s Office and run for State Treasurer. Yes, the same Doug Matayo who couldn’t manage to timely file his FEC reports when he was a federal candidate now wants to be in charge of your money. Former ARGOP Chairman Dennis Milligan has already announced his candidacy for this race as well. I’ve heard some talk of State Sen. Missy Irvin getting into this race or even the Lt. Gov. race, but I have my doubts; you can’t carry water for ALEC and the Koch Bros. from the Treasurer’s seat.
For the Democrats, the only name I’ve heard from more than one person is former State Rep. Leslie Milam Post. I think she’d be a fine candidate, save for my suspicion that many Arkansans will be hesitant to vote for another female Democrat for this job so soon after Shoffner’s scandal.
Two Republicans have already jumped into this race: State Rep. Andrea Lea and the unqualified, erstwhile lackey of Curtis Coleman and Mark Martin, Ken Yang. If you are voting in the Republican primary and you don’t choose Lea over Yang, you might as well just admit that you either hate women or you hate Arkansas. There’s no other explanation for that choice.
If there are any Democrats rumored to try to fill Charlie Daniels’ seat, I haven’t heard about it. Daniels’ announcement was so recent, most Democrats probably hadn’t even considered it until just a few weeks ago. UPDATE: Former AR-01 candidate Clark Hall is apparently looking at a run for Auditor. I highly approve of this. UPDATE2: Per Jason Tolbert’s Twitter, “State Audit staff member Regina Hampton To Seek State Auditor’s Post.”
John Thurston, who has done a tremendous job as Land Commissioner, is seeking reelection as far as I know. I’m sure a Democrat or two will get in the race, but nobody has done so yet.
Currently Pulaski County JP Tyler Denton and former candidate/Clinton Foundation spokesman Jordan Johnson are both apparently eyeballing the seat held by term-limited Rep. John Edwards. Denton likely didn’t help himself out much with his actions in the Lake Maumelle issue. Johnson has some name recognition and enough connections to win this one.
A Republican candidate is unlikely to matter in this seat. See, e.g., Patricia Wolfe. Who? Exactly.
Univ. of Arkansas professor and old-school F.O.B. Stephen Smith is said to be eyeing the seat currently held by House Minority Leader Rep. Greg Leding.
Republican Robin Lundstrom announced her candidacy for Rep. Jonathan Barnett’s term-limited seat way back in January. Bully for her.
State Rep. Ann Clemmer is apparently considering running for this seat. Current seat-holder Jeremy Hutchinson has, ahem, issues that would make him vulnerable anyway, plus he might just jump ship and run for the AG’s position.