The ledge and the sex offender | Arkansas Blog

The ledge and the sex offender

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OK, sex offender is harsh. Then-state Rep. Dwayne Dobbins copped a plea bargain to a harassment charge and thus isn't classified as a sex offender. But the charge stems from copping a feel of a teen in his home. He wants to run again, even though leaving the legislature was understood to be a condition of his leniency. Now he has a Green Party opponent, a political novice.

But wait... there's more beyond the chances of a Green candidate, who is white, to beat Dobbins. Dobbins, who is black, is running in a majority black district and there's been a historic tendency of black voters to support black candidates over white candidates in such circumstances.

Democratic Majority Leader Rep. Steve Harrelson is quoted here as mentioning some sentiment in the House in favor of refusing to seat Dobbins if he's elected. This comes several days after I'd been told that the Republican caucus might make an issue of this. I don't think that's a bad idea. It remains to be seen -- given the frailties some of them have exhibited over the years -- whether legislators will  impose sexual harassment as a bar to membership. There's also a more interesting political dimension, at least for Democrats. Sen. Tracy Steele, a leader of the black caucus in the legislature, which is solidly Democratic, has already been quoted in a manner supportive of Dobbins. A black caucus behind Dobbins might create sticky politics for Democrats who look to the caucus to form alliances on other issues.

UPDATE: Rep. Bryan King, leader of the House Republican caucus, confirms that Republicans are looking into the possibility of a vote to block Dobbins' seating. "There's a likely possibility that not seating him will be addressed," he said.

 

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