Political junkies without a real election to overanalyze fill the void with "what if?" scenarios. With the State Fair underway, consider this column a helping of cotton candy for such readers.
The tensions between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are now known in
This set of moves would have major implications for U.S. foreign policy. It would also have implications for Cotton's ultimate presidential ambitions. While a shift from the U.S. Senate to CIA is anything but typical (indeed, it's never occurred), it would further deepen the foreign policy section of Cotton's resume, would likely invigorate him intellectually and would formalize his connection to Trump, whose voters will be of outsized importance in election cycles to come. The downsides are that, most days, Cabinet officials are lower profile and that it would remove him from the debate over immigration reform, where Cotton has dedicated significant energies and is a topic more naturally invigorating for Trump voters.
The real fun for Arkansas political junkies comes back home, where this set of events would create a monstrous domino effect in Arkansas politics. That's because in the last legislative session election law was tweaked to make
Based on the party's sudden dominance in the state, Cotton's appointment would appear not to risk a safe GOP seat. It would also likely create a factionalized battle in a GOP primary, however. As in the recent Alabama race, two clear lanes would likely show themselves: one for the establishment wing and the other for
While Democrats lack an obvious viable candidate, as shown by the party's challenge in fielding a gubernatorial candidate to this point, this race might mark a space for a moderate candidate — like former House Speaker Davy Carter — to run as an Independent with Democratic backing. (That strategy is not feasible in a governor's race because the Democrats must gain 3 percent of the vote for governor to maintain its line on the ballot.)
Of course, several of those potential GOP candidacies would open up other seats down below as the dominoes kept moving across the political landscape. The Hutchinson decision would be most consequential in this regard, creating a premature battle for governor between several of those listed above.
Because of its dramatic rise to dominance, the Republican talent pool remains shallow for
Again, all this vision of a dramatically reshaped 2018 election cycle in the state may be as fleeting as a Mega drop ride at the fair, but if it came to fruition it would create an election cycle unseen in the state since 1978, a year when nearly every race was wide open and many new names entered the political scene in Arkansas.