It is almost time to close the books in 2021.
Note that the few pages left to record for this year, as of Dec.29th, will reveal any major events given the closeness of the New Year.
Much of the forecast for 2022 – a political year in Arkansas – has already been scripted for you, Mr. and Mrs. Voter.
There will be a quick, no-holds barred campaign for the office of Governor. The GOP has lined up a very popular, second generation politically savvy candidate in Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a formidable candidate.
While the national GOP knows her as the inaugural press spokesman for former President Donald Trump, Arkansans, for the most part, will remember her as the former First Daughter when the decade long popular governor – Sarah's dad – Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas.
Few of her detractors will recall that Sarah went to public high school in Little Rock – Little Rock Central – and was as active as any other teenager during those formative years. Few will recall she quickly transitioned into a very active, both academically and socially, coed at Ouachita Baptist University for college.
During those years, she witnessed many campaigns from deep inside the hourly, daily and weekly workings of a campaign – a real political campaign. Out of college, she learned to manage other campaigns, most notably the re-election campaign of U.S. Senator John Boozman, a quietly effective former UA Hog lineman and conservative who has been elected and re-elected while barely speaking above a measured whisper – unless one remembers his closed-door rant in the Senate quiet room at Texas' Ted Cruz over the stalemate to shut down the government.
I hope Arkansans will never forget Boozman's outburst at the "Bully of the Brazos," even if many disagree with the party politics that Boozman plays so very often.
Sanders' unique position to raise funds nationally scared off the surging Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in seeking the governor's race. A quartet of Democrats (to date) and at least one third-party candidate will flesh out the governor's race for the preferential primary.
Other down ballot races are pretty slim pickings, unless it is the scrum among the GOP for Governor Light – commonly known as Lt. Governor. AG Rutledge, a mindless party parrot, joins others in that race, like term limited State Senator Jason Rapert of Conway, former GOP party scion Doyle Webb, a clueless Washington County Judge Joseph Wood, party insider Chris Bequette and Dr. Greg Bledsoe, the state's chief medical officer.
The 2022 election cycle will feature a realignment of all the 35 state Senate seats, the 100 state House of Representatives seats and a redrawing of the state's four Congressional Districts.
All four incumbent congressmen look fairly safe, even with shifting counties in the Northwest Arkansas area.
Back here at home, some local defections, like that of state Senator Lance Eads of Springdale, have already triggered a four-candidate primary, reduced to a runoff in early January for the February race. The Democrats in that district had a primary and a solid candidate headed to the February showdown.
The realignment of the state House has caused at least one defection from the slate, adding three other new seats in the NWA area.
Adding to this new census realignment, county governing boards (justice of the peace) zones will be redrawn. As well, the many school boards will be redrawing their maps for a new vote on most school board members in the same year.
A few of the cities will also have new ward maps soon, so the political landscape will indeed be changing.
I'll stop focusing on this mess and do something positive, like root for the Razorbacks to beat Penn State in the New Year's Eve Outback Bowl.
Back to politics in 2022. Everyone, Happy New Year!
-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at maylon [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.