If an incumbent must have opponents, she'd want the kind that Blanche Lincoln has. Every one of them is either unknown, and deservedly so, or much too well known to vote for. We'd suspect the senator had recruited them herself, hoping to discourage more serious candidates, except that this bunch couldn't put a rabbit to flight. They'd be more likely to attract competition than frighten it away. On the Republican side are the devious Gilbert Baker and the primitive Kim Hendren (“So easy even Kim could do it” may be his slogan), who've embarrassed themselves as members of the legislature, and these two are followed by less imposing aspirants. There's an anti-fluoridationist in the mix, we think, and a fellow who drives one of those really big pickups. Several are said to be heavily tattooed.
As for Democrats — nominal Democrats anyway - Bob Johnson is talking about running, of all people. Among other blots on his record, Johnson is the fellow who sponsored a bill to let developers use Little Rock's water supply for a toilet. And he almost got it passed. He's the kind of proficient wrongdoer that Gil Baker aspires to be.
This may be the lowest-grade field of challengers ever for a major office. One or two Hutchinsons in the race would clinch the title. At least we're not South Carolina. Mark Sanford and Joe Wilson can't file.
Let people know
Commendably, Gov. Mike Beebe believes that taxpayers should know where their money is going. Some public officials expend considerable effort to keep this information from the public.
Beebe said last week that the identities of former public employees who receive benefits through the Arkansas Public Employee Retirement System should be available to the public. If current law prohibits release of the names, then the current law should be changed, he said.
State officials are trying to track retirees who “retired” and then came back to work so that they could draw a salary and retirement benefits at the same time. Though smelly, the arrangement is apparently legal if all the conditions are met. Some retirees did not fully comply with the law, or so it seems, and thus owe the retirement system money. The investigation proceeds, but the system is not revealing the names of any retirees, its lawyer saying that the applicable state law prohibits such revelation, even though the state Freedom of Information law would appear to require it. The attorney general has been consulted. If he says that the law prohibits disclosure, the law should be changed at the next meeting of the legislature. That will be easier done with Beebe's support.