State Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway) and Arkansas Times senior editor Max Brantley discussed recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the Defense of Marriage Act, the Texas legislature’s debate on the 20-week abortion ban, former State Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s legal woes, and the prospects of a Mark Pryor versus Tom Cotton 2014 Senate match-up.
Both men see former State Treasurer Martha Shoffner’s legal woes as troublesome for the Democratic Party of Arkansas and a negative for politics in general.
“To have a former Democratic officeholder on trial, and if not admitting, being forced to deal with some pretty obvious bad things – that is, receiving money from someone who got state business – this isn’t good for anybody and she’ll be associated with the party and should be. And Republicans will make hay of it,” Brantley said.
Rapert added, “I genuinely don’t care if she’s Democrat or Republican or Independent. There’s no place in state government for corruption and unethical behavior. The thing that probably bothers me the most about the situation: she did what she did and she’s going to have to be accountable, but the employees in that office literally endured intimidation and frankly, if it were a private company, the state of Arkansas would probably be sued right now.”
Rapert and Brantley also offered opinions on Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Cong. Tom Cotton (R), who appear on a collision course in the 2014 Senate race.
“I think Tom’s heading in that direction, there’s no question about it. He has to make his decision in his own time,” Rapert said.
“The fact of the matter is the winds are against Mark Pryor in this race. He’s been on the wrong side of the issues as it relates to the opinions of the Arkansas people. I respect him and the legacy of his family. I know Mark and believe he’s a nice person. I believe if he could, he’d switch parties,” Rapert added. “The fact is he’s trying to run as a Republican. We’ll see what happens. But Tom Cotton has got the ability, he’s got the skills, and he has got the momentum that he could win this race.”
Brantley thinks Cotton is an ideal challenger to Pryor and the match-up could work in Pryor’s favor.
“Tom Cotton is the best possible candidate for Mark Pryor because he is so extreme. Here’s a guy who’s voted against disaster aid, he’s voted against the Farm Bill, he’s voted against food stamps. He wants to go to war against anybody that rattles a saber out there,” Brantley said. “He’s strange, he has a weird way about him. He came back to Arkansas after years away as a consultant. I understand that the war hawks raised $100,000 for him this week. He is a smart guy, there’s no doubt about that. Believe me, Mark Pryor is going to have a tough race this year.”
“Out of all the candidates Mark Pryor could face, he’s the best one,” Brantley added. “Steve Womack would be another matter entirely.”
Watch the full video of today’s political roundtable below.