by Max Brantley
I won't bore you with where I've been, but I had to stay away from the keyboard most of the afternoon. Sorry. Here's an early open line.
I can report:
* WEDDING BELL BLUES: Two long-term domestic partner couples tried to get marriage licenses at the Pulaski County Courthouse today. They got a form letter from the clerk that said the Constitution and statute prevented him from issuing a license to a couple of the same gender. A journey of a thousand miles begins with such steps.
* I LOCKED UP THE SHERIFFS: Mike Ross, Democratic gubernatorial contender, announced today that he had endorsements from 62 of 75 county sheriffs. That's good for the long run, but immensely better in the short run if Bill Halter remains in the primary race. Local courthouse influence should still count for something in party primaries. In theory. Why the conditional on Bill Halter? You still hear people who think between Ross' lead in polling and what's likely to be a significant money advantage — plus encouragement from others — that Halter might shift from this race to a challenge of Tiny Tim Griffin for 2nd District Congress. To date, however, Halter has indicated only a focus on the race for governor, the office he came back to Arkansas to seek eight years ago.
* NEED A JOB? Look no farther than Rogers, where 500 to 1,000 jobs are in the offing for a new center to process paperwork under the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. It is rich, isn't it, that a multi-million-dollar payroll is being created in Boss Womack's backyard, deep in the heart of Yellow Dog Republicanland, thanks to the swarthy Muslim who occupies the White House? Need work? Really? Just Google "Serco" and "Rogers" and "health care" you'll find dozens of listings.
UPDATE: A couple of late additions:
* BAD APPLE: Attorney General Dustin McDaniel notes that Arkansas was among 32 states that were on the winning end of a federal court decision in New York today that said Apple had conspired with major publishers to fix the price of electronic books. Damages will be set later against Apple. The states have already won $166 million for consumers in a settlement with publishers.
* PUSH POLLING FOR TINY TIM GRIFFIN: Just sat through one of the most bodacious rounds of push questions on a political poll ever. It was clearly a vehicle to show that U.S. Rep. Tiny Tim Griffin of Damascus — the oil company- and gun-loving and abortion-hating crusader against the evil Barack Obama — was preferable to a range of Democratic candidates, including Bill Halter, Tab Townsell, Linda Tyler, John Edwards and Joyce Elliott. But the real meat of the survey was an effort to tear down Bill Halter for his support of Obama, universal health care and labor unions and to let you know about his supposedly dubious business background and support from out of state. The dead giveaway came early in the polling when the questions referred to the "Democrat Party." That's required Republican putdown language for the Democratic Party. Anybody who endured the survey couldn't possibly prefer Halter to Griffin, given the opinions outlined. Well, just about anybody. I think it's a sign that Tim Griffin is just a mite nervous about those Democratic footsteps. He should be.