by Max Brantley
Whew. I'm ready for a nap. Over to you. Some final words:
* US SENATE, THE NEWS IS GOOD: Democrats have 55 seats, counting a friendly independent, in the Senate, thanks to additional wins in North Dakota! and Montana! Is that enough to confirm some Supreme Court nominees?
* VOTER ENTHUSIASM: Last report I saw from AP indicated voter turnout this year was about 65 percent of Arkansas's registered voters, about the same as 2008. In other words, the record early vote was more about time shifting than enthusiasm.
* ANTI-INCUMBENT ENTHUSIASM: Racially polarized and anti-incumbent voting distinguished the re-election of at-large members of the Little Rock Board of Directors, all of the three giving up 39 to 53 percent of the vote despite huge campaign treasuries and generally anonymous opposition. The message in this should give cause to reconsider our form of government that discriminates against poor and minority neighborhoods in a non-democratic city government. But we won't, precisely because the wealthy white power brokers prefer this balance of power.
* GRANULAR ELECTION RESULTS: The Pulaski County Election Commission has precinct-by-precinct results at its website. Click the precincts returns and find your number or polling place. They got results out last night in the best fashion I can recall, particularly for a big presidential election and particularly after some machine problems early in the day.
* HAPPY DAYS NOT HERE AGAIN: Dow dropped 312 points today. Bad news in Europe.
* WHEN THEY SAY IT ISN'T ABOUT RACE, PART II: See Twitter.
* REMEMBER BRYANT MAYOR JILL "REPUBLICAN" DABBS?: Says here her candidates for City Council got whupped and mama ain't happy.
* THE DEMOCRATIC SPIN CYCLE: Losers naturally try to put the best face possible on losses, even after gracious concession speeches. With that in mind, I thought I'd share on the jump some notes I've gotten from Democrats deeply involved in the Tuesday elections who were looking for silver linings. Also find there Rep. Darrin Williams' statement kind of indicating he'd still be happy to serve as House speaker some Republicans decide not to vote for someone from their party so as to let his preliminary selection stand.
FROM ONE CORRESPONDENT:
Rs made gains state-wide but suffered setbacks in Northeast Arkansas.
The Rs and outside groups poured hundreds of thousands of dollars in media and mail to defeat two Senate candidates, but lost both races.
They also made strong efforts to defeat incumbent House members James Ratliff in Lawrence County, Tommy Wren in Fulton County (and a likely candidate for future statewide office) and Butch Wilkins in Craighead County. The Ds won these races. The R effort to defeat James McLean in Batesville was more tepid given the background of Charlie Fuqua, and McLean won big.
Two of the nastiest and most blatantly racist Republican House members — Lori Benedict and Jon Hubbard, lost to mainstream D challengers Scott Baltz (Pocahontas fire chief) and Harold Copenhaver (local insurance salesman and Baptist deacon).
Rs also suffered setbacks at the county level in Greene and Craighead Counties. Rs made strong pushes for county offices in these two counties — notably Greene County Judge and Craighead County Sheriff, but came up short across the board.
AND ANOTHER COMMENT ON THAT NORTHEAST SHOWING
Dustin McDaniel had a hand in this. He created and personally raised the money for an independent committee that spent resources in the races in Northeast Arkansas. He spent maybe $50,000, a pittance compared to the Koch brothers but not bad considering that most of it was spent in the last 10 days. It’s also important to note that this $50,000 came almost entirely out of Jonesboro, not from out of state. Money is money but I think it’s different when an independent group is funded by local businessmen in Jonesboro who are appalled by the Jon Hubbards and Linda Collins-Smiths of the world, rather than being funded by two billionaires from Kansas.
AND FOR A BROADER VIEW
Actually dust is settling and the damage here is salvageable.
Arkansas is competitive and a two-party state. We are not MS, AL or GA. There is likelihood we can swing back and win here.
We won races in deep red parts of the state. Vines, Wren, Kizzia, Overby, Catlett, etc.. And lost in areas where the candidates should have won but had weak personalities.
The sea wall was 10 ft and the flood came in at 10.4 inches. Water came over and caused damage in the basement, subfloor and dry wall but didn't wash away the house. We will rebuild those damaged areas and get ready to live another day.
Opportunities for wins still exist. Barry Hyde, new candidate in Miller County, non presidential turnout in Conway, and new and more aggressive candidate in Cross County. Two-year versus four-year drawings will create the strategy there. Won't get this all back at once but with a good candidate in 2016 (i.e. Hillary!!!!) we could see a play to get more back in a better environment.
All in all the R's were saying 60+++ in the House (hell they even said 70) and they got 51 in the HIGHEST WATER MARK EVER!!!
24++ in the Senate and they will just cover 20+/-.
Not saying i'm happy but i see a pathway in the weeds.
DARRIN WILLIAMS STATEMENT
Speaker-designate Darrin Williams on Arkansas legislative elections:
“First and foremost, I want to thank all of the candidates who ran this year. Public service is a noble calling, and our democracy only works when good people decide to make the sacrifice of time, money and energy to serve. This year’s House elections have been among the closest, most expensive and divisive campaigns in our state history. And today the outcome in District 52, and therefore the balance of power in the House, is still in question.
Regardless of the outcome, I pledge, as I did back in March when my colleagues elected me Speaker-designate, to work with each member to move our state forward and continue the progress we have already achieved in so many areas.
The Speaker has always served at the will of the majority of the membership and there should be no difference in the 89th General Assembly, regardless of which party holds the majority in the House of Representatives. I reaffirm my pledge to put the state’s needs first and to work to make Arkansas an even better place for this generation and the next. I also want to thank the fine people of District 36, who have again re-elected me to serve them. It is my honor to do so."