by Max Brantley
Rumor mill is grinding on the race for the next president pro tem of the Senate, to be decided Thursday when the session's work is completed.
Sen. Paul Bookout of Jonesboro, "Brotherhood" backed, is the presumptive leader, but he may be right on the edge of the 18 votes necessary to win, our source says. "Otherhood" candidates Mary Anne Salmon and Percy Malone likely will support the other should one of them make a runoff after the first ballot. Republican Sen. Ruth Whitaker is also seeking the job. Does that make her votes decisive?
Other Senate speculation: That Sen. Bobby Glover, who's had health problems, will resign from the Senate after casting his vote for Bookout. He delivered a speech yesterday that many thought sounded like a valedictory. Glover's final monument: A tax break for mini-warehouses. Resigning mid-term means representatives in that Senate district wouldn't be eligible to seek the balance of the term at a special election.
UPDATE: Glover said there's no truth to rumors that he plans early retirement. "They'll have to roll me out of here," he said. He said he'd given a thank-you speech and he said his health wasn't what it has been, but he's been responding well to his treatment and had every intention of serving out his term. So there.
UPDATE II: A supporter of Bookout says he's confident the Jonesboro senator will win the pro-tem race on the first ballot and that rumors to the contrary amount to nothing more than a last-ditch effort to derail his march to victory. In this view, Bookout enjoys support both inside and outside the old Brotherhood (a division of yore which admittedly hasn't been much of a factor, at least outwardly, in deliberations this year.)