Never has so much political wisdom been gathered for lunch at one table since ....... (I'm thinking Tommy Robinson and Say McIntosh, but you fill in the blank.)
Rep. Andrea Lea took this photo at Political Animals today. Tablemates: Starting with Alice Stewart and going clockwise, Rex Nelson, Skip Rutherford, Dale Bumpers, Archie Schaffer, Jason Tolbert, Roby Brock, John Brummett, me, Jay Barth. I'm kind of surprised Lea didn't do a Stalin on me. Her Tweet on the photo somehow omitted my glorious participation.
In summary of the panel discussion (Rutherford, Bumpers and Schaffer were spectators): Not a lot of optimism for Democratic prospects in 2014 at any level, but Mike Ross's money and political skills clearly make him a powerful gubernatorial contender. Bill Halter? Heavy sentiment that he should run for 2nd District Congress. My contribution: Most important contest in 2014 is the battle for the Arkansas House of Representatives. The districts were drawn by Democrats in 2010 to recognize historic voting patterns. They may be meaningless against organic changes in political outlook. But Republicans only barely got a two-vote 51-seat majority in 2012 and then only thanks to a few dozen votes in Jackson County and a Democratic party screwup in Clark County. Plus, term-limited Republicans offer some opportunities for Democrats in 2014. I said that a Democratic House would overturn fundamental legislative dynamics (prevent us from becoming Oklahoma and Alabama in other words), but it would take 1) money 2) organization and 3) good candidates. I haven't found a Democrat yet who has told me with any confidence that any of those three elements is in place.
This is a long introduction to a favor for Political Animals Club boss Rex Nelson:
The club is scheduling a series of breakfast meetings to meet the announced gubernatorial candidates. Reservations are required and you can get on the club mailing list by writing firstname.lastname@example.org. Call 378-0843 for reservations. The meetings cost $20 to attend, but include breakfast. The schedule, all at 7 a.m. at the Little Rock Club atop the Regions Building:
July 23 — Asa Hutchinson
Aug. 8 — Curtis Coleman
Aug. 16 — Mike Ross
Aug. 20 — Debra Hobbs
Yes, Rex is working lining up Bill Halter.