by Max Brantley
I sat in at UALR Law School this afternoon for most of the debate between 2nd Congressional District Republican candidates Scott Wallace and Tim Griffin. Gubernatorial candidate Jim Keet moderated.
It was too civil for many words. They agreed on most everything. Griffin's superior organization was in evidence -- his signs lined the street leading to the law school and the crowd was well salted with backers wearing his campaign stickers.
Wallace, politely, emphasized that Griffin was the "hand-picked" choice of the Washington Republican establishment, not a proper candidate for a time of revolutionary change. He said House Minority Whip Eric Cantor had no business coming to the 2nd District to tell people how to vote. He emphasized his longer tenure as a Little Rock resident. Griffin, a Bush White House political hand, said he saw no baggage, only honor, in his White House service. He said the money he'd received from national sources was a sign of belief that he was the candidate best equipped to take a seat ripe for turnover. And he talked of his own Arkansas roots, though they be primarily in Magnolia. (He went to college at Hendrix in the 2nd.)
Both promised to me afterward that they'd be saying things in the future that might have some appeal to the electorate in Pulaski County who, after all, elected Vic Snyder for 14 years, voted solidly for Barack Obama and voted overwhelmingly against discriminatory legislation against gay people, among other non-Republican leanings. That wasn't on the agenda today, just familiar conservative boilerplate.