by Max Brantley
A break from TV gives me a chance to say:
Without Florida, Mitt Romney loses and Florida isn't looking good.
UPDATE: It's over. Ohio goes Obama and so goes the nation. A historic victory on a night when Arkansas will make history of its own by not edging, but leaping into the Republican column with total control of U.S. House seats and what appear to be huge margins in the legislature.
Republicans will sweep the Arkansas congressional seats. Moral victory for Herb Rule, who appears to be heading to a big win in incumbent Congressman Tim Griffin's home county. Maybe Griffin should move to Benton, Conway or Searcy, which overwhelmingly supported him and will give him a comfortable victory overall. He never legislates with Pulaski interests in mind. Repudiation at home isn't a great springboard for his 2014 Senate race.
The Arkansas legislative final tally is a long way off, but a Republican majority is a certainty. House staff members will be typing up resumes. Republicans may sweep most of of the contested Senate races. Gov. Mike Beebe will be figuring out how to govern a legislative majority he tried to thwart. Among the outcomes: Barbara Graves has conceded her hard-fought race against Republican Allen Kerr. Rep. Jim Nickels, a progressive Democrat, narrowly survived a Republican challenger from Sherwood. Some other Pulaski legislative races are still up in the air, but Sen. David Johnson will handily defeat a Tea Party opponent. Mark Lowery apparently has defeated Kelly Halstead for a Maumelle House seat. The Barry Hyde-Jane English Senate race in North Little Rock is tight, but with Republican English ahead. Tight, too, are Senate races in Northeast and Southeast Arkansas.
RUNOFF: It's likely for North Little Rock mayor, where Tracy Steele is leading 48-40 Joe Smith, the designated heir to Pat Hays. If Steele doesn't top 50 percent (and with 98.5 percent of the vote counted it doesn't seem likely), the runoff will be the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
LITTLE ROCK CITY BOARD: Gene Fortson edged ahead of Willard Proctor to apparenlty retain his Little Rock City Board seat with a 46-40 edge. The minor candidate who picked up 13 percent might have saved Fortson's rear in the no-runoff race.
STATEWIDE BALLOT ISSUES: The highway sales tax is comfortably ahead; opponents are beating medical marijuana 52-48 (Pulaski voters are approving it heavily); Issue 2, a corporate welfare scheme, is being defeated with about a third of the vote in.