The gubernatorial frontrunners

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 91 views 

Somehow the announcement last week that former Congressman Mike Ross, D-Prescott, has quit his cushy job as the Governmental Affairs of the Southwestern Power Pool, seems appropriate.

And timely.

It was on the same day as Asa Hutchinson, also a former Congressman, R-Fort Smith, who had a cushy and temporary job with the National Rifle Association to craft a way to arm school teachers and protect public schools with guns, issued a highly anticipated report.

Remember, Hutchinson announced last fall, he was seeking the Governor’s spot, paused his campaign temporarily, after the Newtown, Conn., school shooting, to go run the NRA’s new gun/school program.

Now, Asa Hutchinson quits the NRA program and retreats back to Arkansas for his announced gubernatorial run.

Both men, Ross and Hutchinson, you see, may collide in a race for Arkansas Governor’s Mansion in 2014, but only after the party primaries are over.

Both men are on opposite political parties, but each seeks the independent voter base of Arkansas. Neither is alone in his party’s attempt at the Governor’s Mansion.

Democrats have announced former Lt. Governor Bill Halter, who is seeking the party's nomination over Ross. On the GOP side, Curtis Coleman, a Little Rock businessman is seeking the Republican nod against Hutchinson.

More on these two, Coleman and Ross, and possibly some other announced candidates in the future.

Now back to Hutchinson and Ross.

Asa Hutchinson, was elected to succeed his brother (Tim) as Northwest Arkansas’ 3rd District Congressman in 1996. Asa Hutchinson has never been one to stick around very long – be it as an elected member of Congress, or as an appointed head of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) 2001-2003, or at Home Land Security, 2003-2005. He was U.S. District Attorney for the Western District, 1981-1985.

Getting elected to Congress was Asa Hutchinson’s only elective state office.

Ross was elected in 1990 to the Arkansas Senate where he served 10 years (and was term limited). In 2000, he narrowly won the 4th District Congressional seat from GOP Congressman Jay Dickey, R-Pine Bluff, by less than 4,000 votes.

In a 2002 re-match with Dickey, Ross won by 41,729 votes, a 60-40 percent split.

Ross known as a “Blue Dog” conservative Democrat, was challenged in 2010 against both a GOP and Green Party candidate, still he plated 57 percent of the voters. In 2012, Ross announced he was retiring from Congress.

He has yet to lose a race in Arkansas.

Asa Hutchinson, out of Congress and the federally appointed gigs, back in 2006, sought the Governor’s Mansion against former State Attorney General Mike Beebe, a former state Senator from White County.

Beebe defeated Hutchinson, 430,765 to 315,040, in a field of six candidates.

In that crowded field were two write-ins candidates collecting less than 500 votes; a firery Independent Party Candidate, Ron Bryan, 15,767 votes and former state House member and Green Party icon Jim Lindall, 12,774 votes.

Now for the second time, Asa Hutchinson seeks to ask the people of Arkansas to elect him to a four-year term as Governor of the State.

Many Republicans lament his leaving Congress, in 2001, which looked like a lifetime job – there are no Congressional term limits.

Democrats remember Asa Hutchinson’s two failed state wide races for political office: He ran against former U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers in 1986; and ran against former Attorney General Winston Byant in 1990.

And Democrats will never seem to forget Asa Hutchinson was a House Prosecutor in the failed attempt to impeach former President Bill Clinton.

Stay tuned.