The filing period to run for political office is now officially open at the State Capitol. The rotunda today was full of candidates there to fill out paperwork to have their names placed on the ballot for various legislative, federal and judicial offices.
There weren’t any surprises today, but since filing is open until noon on March 1st, I suspect we’ll have a couple before it’s all over.
I was at the State Capitol for a few hours today to observe the festivities. Here are some random notes and observations:
–The Democratic and Republican Party both had candidate filing tables and the visual differences in the demographics of the two lines were quite striking. A few minutes after filing officially opened at noon, the line for the Democrats was very diverse and looked like Arkansas: young folks, older folks, white candidates, African-American candidates, male and female candidates. Below is a picture of the Democrats candidate line.
The Republican candidate line was fairly homogenous: a line of white men, mostly middle-aged, in suits with one just female candidate in line, which was Senator Missy Irvin. I snapped the below picture about 30 seconds after I took a picture of the Democrats’ line.
Do the pics mean Republicans are doomed, can’t win the majority, etc.? No, not at all. It was the optics of the two lines that just struck me as off-kilter. Sort of like the optics of the Congressional hearings last week on birth control where the Republican majority only allowed men to testify, but no women, even though the birth control debate directly involves women, to say the least.
It should be noted that at the end of the first day of filing more Republican candidates had filed to run than Democratic candidates. The best I can tell, it seems that today 81 Democrats and 91 Republicans filed for office. Does that mean the Democrats are doomed, can’t hold the majorities? No, not at all. It’s just the first day of filing.
–DPA Chairman Will Bond told a gaggle of reporters that he expects former State Representative Jay Martin to file to run against Tim Griffin in the 2nd Congressional District. He also said that in addition to State Senator Gene Jeffress, there is one other candidate considering running for the Democratic nomination in the 4th District. Jeffress filed his official paperwork today.
–Former Republican State Representative Jim Hendren filed to run in Senate District 2. In 2001, Hendren was at one point the front-runner in a 3rd Congressional District special election to replace Asa Hutchinson, but Hendren dropped out that race, only to get back in before the election. According to press reports at the time, Hendren apparently had an extramarital affair and the details of it became a part of the public record when he was mentioned in a divorce proceeding. His candidacy is proof that in politics you do get second chances. Hendren is running to replace his father, State Senator Kim Hendren.
–Some unctuous Republican operatives are already spreading silly rumors. According to sources, Jason Rapert’s campaign made up a rumor that Linda Tyler isn’t going to file to run against Rapert and they noted that she wasn’t in the State Capitol today, which in their minds meant she wasn’t going to file. They took to social media to spread their made-up lie, making their efforts all the more disgusting and showing how low some Republicans are willing to stoop. Linda Tyler is running for State Senate, no matter what Republican operatives say.
UPDATE: Today (Friday, Feb. 24), I spoke with a very reliable source who told me why Representative Linda Tyler was not at the State Capitol this week. Tyler has spent this week in the hospital with her daughter, who apparently is quite sick. Tyler has kept her daughter’s health situation from the public eye because I am told she believes it’s a family matter and not for the public arena. Who could fault her for putting family ahead of politics?
But Jason Rapert’s campaign doesn’t seem to care about Tyler’s family or her privacy since his campaign’s paid political operatives used social media to spread a malicious rumor that Tyler wasn’t going to run for Senate.
While his opponent’s daughter is in the hospital, Rapert’s campaign chose to spread lies, instead of offering prayers. The Rapert campaign’s lack of real family values is shocking and their actions are some of the most disgusting I’ve seen in a long time.
–Kudos to the Secretary of State’s office for running a smooth and easy filing process. Hundreds of people streamed through the Capitol today, but the system was organized and easy to follow. I have criticized his office in the past, but I must give credit where credit is due.
–This blogging gig makes for interesting conversation starters. One Republican Legislator came up to me in the Rotunda, and said, “I liked you when you used to work here at the State Capitol, but then you became an a$$hole blogger.” I said the blogging gig was a recent endeavor, but the other part was a more long-term malady.