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OPINION: Scattershooting While Seeing Who Else Wants To Run For Office

by Maylon Rice | May 12, 2021 at 5:25 a.m.

Generally, there is a "cooling off" spell following the adjournment of the legislative session but not this year.

Seems like it is closer to Labor Day than the calendar purports, as potential candidates for the '22 statewide races stake out their desires early -- way early.

But anyone who has been around politics as long as former state Senator and GOP Party head Doyle Webb knows, that time's a-wastin' as Lil Abner always said.

This past week, Webb, who has apparently completed his lucrative $150,000 gig for Attorney General Leslee Rutledge as a line drawer for the upcoming redistricting of Arkansas's legislative districts, has announced his desire to become the Governor Light (or Lt. Governor) in 2023.

Imagine that!

It is a cut in pay over what AG Rutledge paid him to consult with her on the redrawing of legislative districts.

And no doubt this will be the least visible role Webb has carried since emerging from Saline County to the legislature a decade or so ago.

Remember, just remember, his wife is now an Arkansas Supreme Court justice and his sister-in-law is head of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality.

• • •

There is also a fast-filling roster for Lt. Governor as Arkansas' doctor -- Surgeon General Greg Bledsoe, an emergency room doctor by day, titleholder by Governor's proclamation, and the son of state Sen. Cecile Bledsoe -- says he will run for political office, his first try at politics.

And there will be others for sure.

• • •

My question will be, will being the No. 2 to whoever wins the governorship in 2022, be a real job or even more of an "I'll call you when you are needed" gig?

• • •

Many are saying that the $4.8 million war chest, her national name recognition and coziness with former President Donald Trump are more than enough for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to be crowned (by 60% or more) as Arkansas's next chief executive.

So why do so many want to be No. 2 behind the Throne?

• • •

Looks like the redrawing of the Congressional lines will finally slice off the western counties of Boone (Harrison) and Baxter (Mountain Home) from the Third Congressional District. Also lost will possibly be Pope (Russellville) and some other areas.

Washington and Benton counties will, of course, be the hub of the new Third District, with Sebastian County (and Fort Smith) the anchor to the southern end of the District.

• • •

Sadly, or so it seems, Madison County (Huntsville) to the west will remain in the largest Congressional District in the state's history – the Fourth Congressional District. Redrawing the state and Congressional maps is an every 10-year process. Thanks to the U.S. Census numbers being released later than usual (of course, due to the pandemic), the rush is on for 2022 political races.

• • •

With the 108 days of the 93rd General Assembly just concluding, look for ever-higher per diem and travel reimbursements from area legislators. While there is always short fiscal outrage at the cost of running the legislature -- remember they will be back in September for another 20 days (I predict) to get the new legislative district maps finalized and ready for the 2022 political season.

• • •

The latest carrot for the rush to get those 12 to 100 vaccines -- high school fall sports in Arkansas's high schools -- could, could mind you, require full vaccinations of all participants.

You want high school football next fall? Get the team, coaches and all those who want to attend vaccinated.

• • •

One last little hint at politics: There are five other state constitutional offices that may be "up" for a newly elected head in 2022. Are the current offices just going to trade offices with each other?

Inquiring minds want to know.

-- Maylon Rice is a former journalist who worked for several northwest Arkansas publications. He can be reached via email at [email protected] Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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