The Arkansas Republican Party unloads on Gov. Mike Beebe for pushing to have his “crony” Shane Broadway elevated to director of the state Higher Education Department when he lacks qualifications specified by state law for the job. The GOP nicks Beebe, too, because at least one member of the appointed board that will fill the job seems prepared to dispense with a prescribed search process.

The GOP engages in some silly, petty stuff sometimes. Make that often. But this is fair political commentary. (I do think it’s somewhat silly to fault a politician for appointing or promoting a political friend to a job under his control or influence. He’s going to appoint an enemy? But the law is another matter altogether.)

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I’m reminded of the comment by a reader this morning that the governor and his Senate-days Bobbsey twin, chief of staff Morril Harriman, run the state like it was their private club. The governor also thinks the definition of tolerance is to silently tolerate whatever Mike Beebe says or does, no matter how off-key.

UPDATE: It’s the governor’s office contention — as I figured — that Broadway’s time as interim director gave him the statutory job experience, including on college campuses, by virtue of his interim work managing the agency and his visits to most of the campuses in Arkansas. Spokesman Matt DeCample said the governor was also somewhat surprised at GOP criticism because Broadway had a proven record of ability to work in a bipartisan fashion in the legislature. He further said that while the statute may specify a “search,” it doesn’t specify the size or scope of such a search and the governor’s office believes that determination is up to the Higher Ed board.

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As a practical and probably legal matter, the governor’s view is defensible. As a political matter, the Republicans are closer to “truth” on this one. It’s a political deal where friendship counted more than qualifications.

BUT …. I had held off on this earlier, because the turncoat in question at least had some college teaching credentials and a law degree (and, turns out, a yen for law-breaking and gambling), but, a commenter notes:

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I’m a little nonplussed that in all the hullabaloo over Beebe making them name Broadway as higher ed director no one calls attention to Mike Huckabee forcing the state Board of Education to name Lu Hardin as director of higher education and then as president of UCA. Lu with Mike’s help used his position to undermine Win Thompson at UCA and set himself up for that job. Lu and Shane are both examples of political cronyism, Republican and Democratic.

Read on for GOP statement: