Not much suspense at Republican victory party

By Steve Brawner, © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

The Republican Party of Arkansas’ victory party Tuesday had a crowd, food and beverages, and a rock-and-roll band. One thing it lacked that would have made it a lot more fun: suspense.

The most important statewide race, the one for governor, was never in doubt. The Associated Press declared Gov. Asa Hutchinson the winner almost immediately after the polls closed. He soon gave a brief victory speech, but the cheers were the kind that comes from people who expected to win. He was followed intermittently by other winning statewide candidates greeted by smaller crowds.

Because I had left to cover the Little Rock mayor’s race, I wasn’t present for the victory speech by the only major Republican candidate who might could have lost.

That would be U.S. Rep. French Hill, who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District, where a lot of Democrats live in Little Rock. He won, 52-46 percent. His opponent, Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, was actually leading early in the evening when Pulaski County’s early vote totals were announced. But the polls leading up to the election had shown Hill had a comfortable lead, and the district’s heavily Republican outlying counties came in strong for him. He won Saline County with 68 percent of the vote and Faulkner County with 62 percent.

“Inevitable” would be the word to describe most of the election results. Whether candidates won or lost depended not on how they campaigned but on where they lived. For state and national races, Republicans won just about everywhere, except where Democrats usually win. In House District 22, Rep. Mickey Gates, R-Hot Springs, won almost twice as many votes as his Democratic opponent despite Gates being arrested for – and admitting to – not paying state taxes. In fact, he didn’t file a tax return from 2004-2017. It didn’t matter. He had an “R” beside his name. Continue reading Not much suspense at Republican victory party

Truth, lies and not-quite lies

By Steve Brawner, © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

The election is over. The good news is, there will be another one in two years.

That’s the good news? Yep. Elections – annoying, divisive and cacophonous – are one reason we live in a free and prosperous country. We could have been born elsewhere, perhaps North Korea. There, instead of 30-second political ads interrupting our pleasant evenings, our televisions would bombard us with propaganda about the Supreme Leader who is actually keeping us subjugated, impoverished and isolated.

Still, seeing the glass half full doesn’t mean we ignore the empty part. Our politics has flaws, including this: far too many not-quite-lies.

What is a not-quite-lie, and how do you spot it? In politics, look for two types. Continue reading Truth, lies and not-quite lies

Questions and guesses for Tuesday

vote, Mark Moore, 16-year-olds, Arkansas primaries, Goodson, photo IDBy Steve Brawner, © 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

There’s not much of a question who the next governor of Arkansas will be after Tuesday’s election: It will be Gov. Asa Hutchinson. Nor is there doubt about the winners of most of the other major races: Anyone with an “R” beside their name.

But many questions do remain. Let’s ask some of them, and then guess what the answers will be.

– Will the Democrats take the Hill, or will their candidate Tucker out? If Democrats are going to win any big races, it’s the 2nd Congressional District, where state Rep. Clarke Tucker, D-Little Rock, had raised almost $2 million as of Oct. 17 in his bid to unseat incumbent U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Ark.

The race is potentially competitive because of the district’s composition – Democratic-leaning Little Rock surrounded by Republican-leaning counties – but the numbers favor Republicans. Continue reading Questions and guesses for Tuesday

A tale of two elections

By Steve Brawner

© 2018 by Steve Brawner Communications, Inc.

Voters in two very different countries have been going to the polls recently.

One is the world’s oldest continuous democracy. It enjoys prosperity to the point of excess, a stable government and the rule of law. Voters have weeks to go to the polls and usually face at most the inconvenience of a short wait, probably inside.

The other does not have a democratic tradition. In some ways it’s less a country and more of a collection of factions, including violent ones, contained within an arbitrary international border. It avoids collapse only through the presence of heavily armed foreigners concentrated in its capital city. Government corruption is rampant.

As its election neared, one of its factions threatened citizens that polling places could be attacked. That’s what happened. At least 28 people have died, including in one attack by a suicide bomber who killed 10 civilians and five police officers at a polling site north of the capital.  Continue reading A tale of two elections