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Election 2014 primer

What you need to know on the candidates (no, Obama is not one, contrary to what you have heard) and the issues.

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The finish line is finally in sight. A bajillion dollars have been spent, football games and web surfing have been thoroughly ruined by excruciating and ubiquitous political ads, and we've endured more whoppers and flip-flops than we can count. It's election season. You can almost smell all the bull.

We've seen new faces and familiar rascals. Scandals from donut-shop blackmail to racist emails (oh, it was just "literary technique" or "country talk"). Fact-checkers pouncing, flaks spinning and national media swooping in to find the perfect Arkansas redneck for a salty quote.

We've heard the word "Obama" repeated so many times that Republicans are left speaking something not recognizable as English. It's their catchall phrase, full of Tea Party sound and fury. Many GOP candidates have decided it's all they need. They might be right.

A few of you have been like us, absorbing and inhaling every new nugget of overhyped news. Most of you have been smarter than that, dodging the onslaught when possible.

Whether you're a political junkie or just a citizen trying to figure out what's what, we have your one-stop shop for Election 2014: the best and (worst) quotes of the season, the legislative races to watch (including the senate contests that could determine the future of the private option), those ballot initiatives you keep promising yourself to study up on (they're a big deal!), the misadventures of Leslie Rutledge, the best and worst of the season's political ads, the impact of the unprecedented onslaught of money into Arkansas politics, and a rundown of all the demagoguery that would be shameful if only more politicians were capable of shame.

All the polling and predictions and punditry will soon be forgotten. Big questions — from control of the U.S. Senate to whether Arkansas has turned into a state as red as Oklahoma — will be answered Tuesday, Nov. 4. Mark your calendars. It's been an inglorious season, but here's our hokey political pitch: Exercising your right to vote remains a glorious thing.

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