by Max Brantley
"I have fielded many questions over the past few months from friends and supporters concerning the 2014 Gubernatorial Race. I have received support and encouragement to run for this office and I am very humbled and appreciative. During this time, Kim and I have prayerfully considered this important decision. We have decided that this race is not the right choice for us at this time. I am happy to announce my support of my friend, Asa Hutchinson for Governor of our great state. I intend to do anything that Asa deems helpful to assist him in his race for our state's highest office, Darr said."
"In January, I said that I would be announcing my future plans formally, after the current legislative session's completion, and I will do so."
UPDATE: Darr's announcement triggers more gubernatorial buzz. John Brummett makes Mike Ross a likely Democratic candidate, which would push Chris Thomason of Hope to the attorney general's race. Roby Brock quotes Sheffield Nelson as saying he's gotten encouragement to run as a Republican or independent. Nelson's advocacy of a gas severance tax increase (cheered here repeatedly) does not make him a prototypical Republican candidate in the teabagger era. An independent candidacy by him would just about lock up a Republican win, wouldn't it? Or would it lock up a Democratic win? That would depend on the nominees, I guess.
Mike Ross is a Democrat? Who knew? His candidacy poses a problem. I don't disagree with those who see him as a stronger general election Democrat than Bill Halter, for now the only other certain Democratic candidate. And he's a money-raising dynamo. But he's also a world-class opportunist. He's quicker than any politician I know to wave a Bible, gun or phony patriotism and to support oppression of women and gays. Worst of all, he not only opposed, he aided and abetted opposition to federal health care expansion while representing a district desperately in need. Absent a change in his tune (and his recent openness to regulation of assault rifles might indicate one in the making), I couldn't hold my nose tightly enough to vote for Ross.
UPDATE II: Add Pat Hays, former North Little Rock mayor and commodore of the Arkansas River fleet reserve, to the list, a politico says. Why not?
UPDATE III: I chatted with Sheffield Nelson. I'll put a few words in his mouth here, but I think it's fair to say he's giving some serious thought to an independent candidacy. But he sees no need to jump directly into the race now. It's early. Name recognition isn't an issue. With the pent-up demand for the office, he predicted plenty of candidates in both the Republican and Democratic primary. He commented: "The Republican Party has moved further to the right and the Democratic Party has moved further to the left. There's a big unmet middle there for people looking for a place to land." That doesn't mean he's made a decision. Much of the influence on a potential independent candidate's decision is the nature of the opposition. That remains unclear. He'll sit back and think about it and talk about it, he said.