by Max Brantley
I attended a gathering heavy on political people last night and the subject inevitably came around to races — or lack of — for Arkansas's congressional seats.
We do have a race in the 1st district — Rep. Clark Hall and ASU prof Gary Latanich will meet in the Democratic primary (at least those two) for the right to oppose Republican Rep. Rick Crawford, the weakest of the three incumbents on the ballot.
Democrat Ken Aden is committed to a spunky insurgent race against the tall odds of unseating Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Womack (col., ret., and don't you forget it) in the Yellow Dog Republican Third.
The 2nd and 4th?
Martin may be hanging back because of the inscrutable Bill Halter, who is being urged by many national liberal Democrats to make this race as a prelude to either a run for governor or U.S. Senate in 2014. Halter simply won't say. This is a disservice to the Democratic Party. But given how the establishment Democratic Party has treated him, I can understand to a degree. It's still overly self-interested at this late hour. Griffin has been wrong on just about everything and his support for Paul Ryan's radical budget notions should be easy meat for a campaign as well as his life spent almost wholly outside of the private sector in the belly of the Washington political attack machinery. But he's a tireless campaigner loaded with bucks from the kind of people who powered the Bush White House when he was a Karl Rove operative.
Then, then, there's the woebegone 4th, where incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike Ross pursued the wholly selfish path of stepping down this year to streamline his race for governor in 2014. Good luck with that. That leaves a gaggle of four Republicans, each vying to carry more teabags than the next, against, so far, announced candidacies from Sen. Gene Jeffress and D.C. Morrison, the clown candidate who disrupted the U.S. Senate primary two years ago. I heard last night that Jeffress might not run after all. He hasn't raised a cent according to the most recent campaign filings. Will he write a check for his filing fee? I have calls out on this. If only D.C. Morrison makes the race, the Democrats might as well have no candidate at all, though the extent of Jeffress' campaigning to date isn't functionally different. Who knows. Then the general election might pit Morrison against Beth Anne Rankin of Magnolia, whom he endorsed in 2010 when Ross defeated her.
Filing opens at noon Thursday.