The Arkansas Blog broke the news last weekend that powerful Joint Budget co-chair Sen. Gilbert Baker had applied to be president of Henderson State University, which is seeking a successor to Charles Welch. He said he was invited by trustee Anita Cabe, a supporter of Baker's failed bid for U.S. Senate in 2010.
Baker had an interview with the search committee Monday. The Insider's sources said afterward that the search committee has sent two names along to the Board of Trustees for interviews, but not Baker's. The candidates – there may be others, a source said – are Donnie Whitten, superintendent of the Arkadelphia school district, and Gary Biller, vice president for student services at Arkansas Tech.
Baker had some street cred. He inserted a $100,000 annual payment to Henderson in an obscure budget bill and also offered as a reference Luke Gordy, lobbyist for millionaire businessmen named Walton, Hussman and Stephens who needed Baker's vote to get their charter school expansion bill out of committee. They got it. Favor returned.