by Max Brantley
Rep. Stephen Meeks said on Twitter this afternoon that he wouldn't move today on a House vote to override Gov. Mike Beebe's veto of the Republican Party's voter ID bill. It is national cookie-cutter legislation the GOP has rolled out to suppress the vote of traditional Democratic constituencies that lack driver licenses and ready means to go through steps needed to get required ID.
Meeks later told the AP the delay was because of a long agenda and that he'd try next week. He says he's confident he has the votes. The House rushed through a two-day agenda today so as not to meet on Good Friday. The Republicans will need every vote of their 51-member caucus. The bill passed with the minimum 51 votes last time, without a vote from Republican Speaker Davy Carter, because it picked up the vote of one Democrat who has since said his vote was recorded erroneously. Carter, who's believed to be working on a campaign for governor, will certainly join the override if he has any hope of winning a Republican primary, though he declined today to say that. The need for him to toe the party line would apply, too, even if he lowers his sights to the attorney general's office. It will be another point to add to a growing list of illustrations that Carter is no more moderate than the rest of the GOP bloc, just not as mean as some of leading bullies. His crossover appeal diminishes with each new episode (tax breaks for millionaires, for example) even if he did give former Democratic Party nabob Gabe Holmstrom a fat job.
The news will be welcomed by Rep. John Walker of Little Rock. He was hopeful of rising in opposition to the override, he told me this morning by telephonje, but was awaiting his first round of chemotherapy following recent surgery for lung cancer. His living witness of the struggle for access to the ballot is always useful, even if it moves no Republican voters.
UPDATE: The bully boy of the ARGOP, Bryan King, is pissed at Carter for not scheduling an override vote today, reports the AP's Andrew DeMillo.
"For this guy to sit there and flip-flop all over the place and not give someone a straight-up answer on this after all this debate, that's just sad," King said. "You need to give someone an honest word. He hasn't."
Carter reiterated he was likely to vote for the measure, but King's remarks were no way to bring him into the fold.
MAYBE Carter is trying to hotbox one of the Democrats who elected him speaker — and was rewarded with a leadership post or some other little favor — in hopes a Democrat will break from the Democratic Party and vote to override Beebe. This would allowSpeaker Carter, the future "crossover" statewide candidate hopeful, to do a traditional duck on the vote.