by Max Brantley
It was inevitable. With growing strength comes growing potential for division. I think that's mostly behind a little internal Republican controversy that I mentioned in this week's Insider column.
The Executive Committee of the state Republican Party will get a report this Saturday on a simmering dispute arising from the contested election that saw Rep. John Burris succeed Rep. Bryan King as leader of the House Republican caucus.
Nobody wants to talk on the record, but the controversy revolves around the decision of new leadership in April to shift the caucus PAC's roughly $35,000 bank account to a new bank in Little Rock and to establish procedures that would end a practice of Republican Party executive director Chase Dugger writing checks from the account as directed by caucus leader King. All oversight is now in the hands of a committee of legislators, as approved by a majority of caucus members.
King, who hasn't returned calls, apparently wasn't happy to learn that the old account was closed and a check written by Dugger to transfer the money without his knowledge or approval. The Republican Party, whose past history includes a few bookkeeping mishaps, isn't anxious to have even a minor dispute break in the open and detract from what they believe will be a banner election year.
Even if there's temporary resolution of the questions about the check that was written on the caucus PAC account, I think you can expect to see continued friction between factions in the House Republican delegation. Some of it will be along an age and experience divide, with some of the older heads doubtful about the youthful Burris, whose real-life occupation is as a substitute teacher. The expected growth in the caucus from new members in January could even change the math on caucus leadership.