by Max Brantley
My money is still on J.R. Howard, 63, a retired trooper. He's a former U.S. marshal, a former state Crime Lab director and served 33 years with the State Police, including as commander of the Law Enforcement Operations Bureau. The federal and crime lab jobs came by appointment by Republican executives, by the way. Howard has some Searcy background in common with the governor, I'm told. His full name, by the way, is Robert G. Howard Jr.