Arkansas House Speaker Davy Carter appeared on Alice Stewart’s morning show on Wednesday morning the day after the legislative session finished up. Carter said he was pleased with what he felt was a successful session particularly the final days when the legislature passed the private option health care plan.
As for his future plans, Carter addressed the speculation as to whether he will jump into the Governor’s race.
“I’m thinking about the governor’s race,” confirmed Carter. “I really want to get out of the marble walls (of the state capitol) for some time and get my arms around everything and my head cleared. Those are big decisions and sometimes when we are in the capitol in that atmosphere for 18 hours a day, sometimes you have to question some of those thoughts you have. So I want to get my mind right and talk with people close to me when I make that decision, but I am thinking about it.”
Carter indicated he felt there was a need for a candidate from the middle.
“I just think Arkansas is in a spot right now where somebody is going to have to follow Gov. Beebe that can reach out and work in the middle and work with all parties – that is committed to doing what is best for the state regardless of partisan politics,” said Carter.
He also responded to criticism from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Ross who in his announcement speech said “some misguided politicians have taken over the state legislature and have made divisive issues of the past their top priority.” He pointed to several pro-life bills passed by the state legislature calling them “an attack on women.”
Carter strongly disagreed.
“I heard where Mike Ross said the other day that this is perhaps the most partisan session in the history of the state. I just don’t think that to be any close to accurate. He is out of touch. I mean if you could have seen the members of both parties – Republicans and Democrats, men and women, people from all parts of the state coming together, working together, talking to each other, communicating. It was anything but that. I bet you could poll all one hundred members and you wouldn’t get 10 percent of them say it was a partisan session. Washington could literally take a lesson from the folks here in Arkansas on how to govern.”
It will be interesting to see if Carter jumps into the race. He is clearly positioning himself for a campaign that presents himself as a conservative able to reach across the aisle. This dynamic would make him a difficult candidate to beat in November as Democrats would have a hard time painting him as an extremist, which appears to be at least the campaign Ross is gearing up to run.
But Carter’s most difficult challenge will be to get past former Congressman Asa Hutchinson, who has jumped out into an early lead in terms of fundraising and support. In addition, the general rule in a Republican primary is that it is nearly impossible to beat an opponent from northwest Arkansas.
But times are a-changing. As the number of primary voters choose the Republican ballot instead of the Democratic ballot in May, the strength of northwest Arkansas is diluted. But has that trend developed enough for a son of the Delta turned banker/lawyer from Cabot to win a primary? The answer to that question is likely what will determine Carter’s decision in the next few months.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yf9psE51BHI]