by Max Brantley
Brummett muses on some of the contradictions that attend the Republican Party's likely re-election Saturday of Sen. Gil Baker to another term as state party chairman.
One of several weirdnesses: Baker hooked up with Democrats in the Senate to deny first the co-chair of Joint Budget and then the president pro tem's seat to Republican Dave Bisbee, who otherwise was in line for the jobs. Where's the loyalty in that? We're expecting a little division at the state committee meeting tomorrow on this account, but not likely enough to alter the election. Especially not if the only alternative is Jim Holt.
UPDATE: Here's Doug Thompson of Stephens with a report on the rift we mentioned. Most Benton County Republicans with votes in the matter plan to skip the committee meeting today in protest of Baker's bailout on Bisbee. Benton County can decide Republican primary elections, but not such as these. Baker also joined with The Brotherhood on the hot pork issue. Benton County GOP chair Ret Miles observes:
The general improvement money "should have gone to reduce taxes or for other fiscally responsible concerns," Miles said. "There were honest disagreements about how the money should be spent, but still we had a chance for the first time since Reconstruction to have a Republican lead the Senate. That chance has been blown for petty reasons. Not only was that denied to him (Bisbee) but losing the budget chairmanship was a slap in the face to him, who's done so much to build the Republican Party in the state."
"We lost a lot of seats because of national concerns. I don't blame Gilbert for that," Miles said. "At least we could have salvaged a leadership position out of this.