The shuffle for No. 2

by The City Wire staff ( 2 views 

As Arkansas’ Grand Old Party adjusts itself to being in the majority not only in the state’s Congressional delegation, but also in the state House and state Senate, the rest of us are often left breathless at all the last minute pre-primary filing switcheroos of late.

It is akin to riding the Tilt-a-whirl at the county fair. Those little cone-shaped carriers swing one way, then another way over the undulating track of the ride, often slinging its occupants from one side to another within the ride.

So who is in? Who is out? And who, all of the sudden, is switching races?

Sounds more like musical chairs? Remember that classic child-hood, birthday party game, the music plays and chairs are positioned for the players. The music starts and stops, quickly but not everyone find a seat. That sounds much like the positioning of the Grand Old Party candidates in the Lt. Governor’s race with their preferential primary filing deadline a scant week away.

What is happening? Well, let’s take a look.

An announced candidate for Governor, state Rep. Debra Hobbs, R-Lowell, a three term state Representative with a propensity to lean to the far right, proclaimed months ago for Governor. The next thing you know, she suddenly and decidedly, despite being unable to raise enough money for a statewide race in a gubernatorial campaign, to run, instead for Lt. Governor. That was at last look, still a statewide campaign.

Why then did Rep. Hobbs, a real conservative firebrand, duck out of the GOP race for Governor? Some speculate she didn’t want to force front runner and GOP repeat gubernatorial candidate, Asa Hutchinson, also of Rogers, into an inter-party runoff. Early speculation put Rep. Hobbs ahead of Hutchinson in the GOP conservative powerhouse of Benton County – a sure embarrassment to Hutchinson, a native and candidate who hails from the tiny Benton County city of Gravette. Rep. Hobbs was born in Hashing, Austria, according to the Directory of the Arkansas General Assembly. But like most of the Benton County populous these days, there are many non-natives of the county and most are non-natives of Arkansas. At least she’s not a Texan.

But that’s not all.

Now in the race for Lt. Governor, Rep. Hobbs appeared to join two of her party’s state Representatives who announced months ago seek the No. 2 spot. Sadly one of those state Representatives vying for the Lt. Governor’s seat, prior to Ms. Hobbs’ quick entry into that race, got cold feet. Rep. Charlie Collins, R-Fayetteville, a second-term state House member and previous chair of Revenue and Tax Committee, recently and suddenly dropped out of the Lt. Governor scramble.

Did Rep. Hobbs’ conservative leanings chase Rep. Collins, (a moderate Republican at best) from the race? Let’s see if we can figure this out. Rep. Andy Mayberry, R-Hensley, also a two-term House member, and author of some very strict abortion restrictions, says he’s staying put in the Lt. Governor hunt. Mayberry is a little more moderate than Rep. Hobbs, but still more conservative than Rep. Collins.

But wait!

The Republican Party is going to field another late entry for Lt. Governor. Will this ever end?

This time a sitting moderate Congressman from Arkansas 2nd District – who told all of us just days after the historic Congressional vote to end the national sequester and get America back to business that he was getting out of politics for his family’ sake – is now getting in the race for Lt. Governor.

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, R-Little Rock, who said he missed seeing his children growing up while being on airplanes back and forth to Washington, D.C., didn’t seem to mind that two state House members were already out pressing the flesh, raising money and campaigning for Lt. Governor. Nor does he seem to mind Rep. Hobbs’ sudden entry into the race for No. 2 in charge.

He didn’t seem to mind a bit that Rep. Hobbs’ bolted from a possible run-off for Governor to dip down to a race where she is the most conservative Republican for Lt. Governor. Nah, Congressman Griffin, you see, is a moderate, when taking on Rep. Hobbs, and he is a little more moderate than Rep. Mayberry. 

It is a toss-up if Congressman Griffin or Rep. Collins (a U.S. Naval Academy grad) is more of a moderate. Maybe that’s why Rep. Collins took the honorable way out and scuttled his ship back to home port.

So here is the key vote, we surmise to the Lt. Governor’s race for 2014 within the Republican Party’s upcoming primary filings:
• Collins voted for the Arkansas Private Option;
• Mayberry did too;
• Hobbs did not; and
• Griffin, while voting in Congress voted against the broader health care law. And, now, Griffin says he would vote against the Arkansas Private Option.

But it isn’t about voting for health care in the upcoming Republican Party Primary is it?  We thought it was about Republicans electing one of their own as a Lt. Governor wanna-be?