But it's worth noting that the process was long ago subverted by money, mostly unaccountable. We still don't know much about all the special interest groups that funneled both direct and indirect money into races in Arkansas in 2010 at every level from state legislature to U.S. Senate.
Just the other day, somebody sent me an interesting squib they'd dug up in rooting through Arkansas-related contributions to political campaigns.
It was in 2008. A 527 political organization called Americans for Change spent $144,500 in 2008 to influence a federal election with a media buy in South Carolina. Chalmer Wayland III of White Hall, a Republican political consultant (he worked for Tim Griffin in 2010), was the contact. Albright Ideas of Little Rock did the media buy. Dempsey Film Group of Little Rock and Cam Emrick of Siloam Springs did some of the media work.
I have some calls out. I'd be guessing this was an independent expenditure friendly toMike Huckabee's presidential candidacy. Clint Albright of Albright Ideas did work for Huckabee over the years. UPDATE: Albright tells me: "That was a group that shared some of the conservative views of Mike and other Republicans…………..we were not part of anyone’s campaign at the time and just hired to place the media"
South Carolina proved to be Huckabee's last stand against eventual winner John McCain. Huckabee's emergence was foiled by the popularity of Fred Thompson, who, after spoiling Huckabee's chances in South Carolina, dropped out of the race.
Here's the prime factoid. The media buy was underwritten entirely by Gene Cauley of Little Rock, described as a self-employed entrepreneur. Cauley made a number of other contributions, mostly to Republicans, in 2008.
You probably won't find the name Gene Cauley on political contribution lists this presidential election year. The former Little Rock securities lawyer is doing a seven-year stint in federal prison. Cauley had his fingers in all kinds of pie in his high-flying days, from law to real estate development. He fell hard. Here's one of many articles about him.
How many 527s are working out there this year? Start counting around Labor Day.